The Democrat and Chronicle reported today Assemblyman David Gantt would reintroduce his legislation giving Rochester’s mayor control of the school district.
This is not a surprise, as it has already passed the assembly. The bill has powerful allies in Gantt, Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy and the business community. But the state senate is a lot trickier, as senators Joe Robach and Jim Alesi have expressed strong reservations.
Meanwhile, a lot has changed in the two years since then-Mayor Duffy campaigned for control of schools.
- We have a new mayor who may not want the job as badly as his predecessor. Tom Richards never talks about mayoral control unless prompted and doesn’t do so with any depth. While Richards has expressed support for mayoral control, I find it hard to believe Albany would hand over control of a $700-million-a-year, 32,000-student district to a man who lacks any outward passion for taking the reigns. There’s still time for Richards to show he wants control of the district. So far, he hasn’t laid out any vision.
- Opposition to mayoral control has grown among area residents. The 2011 Voice of the Voter poll shows 50 percent of respondents oppose and 38 percent support mayoral control. In the 2010 poll, only 30 percent opposed mayoral control.
- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s record on education has been knocked in polls and gains in test scores under his leadership were nearly wiped out.
- The Rochester City School District is no longer run by mayoral-control-friendly Jean-Claude Brizard. The district is in a state of relative calm compared to the turmoil of the last few years. Is it time to rock the apple cart as the school board searches for a new leader – one who may already be in the position? Maybe it’s the perfect time, if you want to install the mayor as chief.