ALBANY—After some resistance last month, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan presented a plan for New York City school governance that still retains the key elements of mayoral control.
Silver's proposal would continue to allow the mayor to appoint the majority of the Panel for Educational Policy, and have members serve "at will"–that is, without fixed terms. It also would provide for more auditing of schools spending in the city, members briefed on the plan said. There is still not a complete consensus among members, including some who are listed as co-sponsors of a bill that would further dilute the mayor's power.
"I would say about 85 percent of our concerns have been dealt with," said Assemblyman Darryl Towns this afternoon. (He's not on the bill, but had some concerns about the current form of mayoral control.) "The 15 percent that we haven't dealt with can be handled in our dialogue with our partners."
This is an interesting statement, given the craziness engulfing the State Senate. Earlier, the Assembly had been keeping its position more fluid and middle-of-the-road, waiting to see what was enacted in the upper chamber. With a deadline looming, that no longer seems to be the best course.
"I think it's an extraordinary time and this is what leadership is about," Towns said of the Assembly's movement. "This house is being responsible by looking at the calendar and realizing that, you know the clock is ticking."
He went on: "One of the members said that, we'll have a bill ready for them when they turn back on the lights."