Mayor Bloomberg's school control bill gets first Democrat support in Brooklyn Sen. Daniel Squadron

 

BY Kenneth Lovett
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Feature article in The Daily News

ALBANY - A bill granting the mayor continued control over the schools has gained a key Democratic sponsor in the Senate, the Daily News has learned.

Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn) Monday will become the first Senate Democrat to co-sponsor a bill approved overwhelmingly last week by the Assembly that keeps the major tenets of the expiring 2002 mayoral control law in place another six years.

Squadron is a freshman senator who toppled longtime incumbent Sen. Martin Connor last year - with key backing from Mayor Bloomberg and his allies.

With all 30 Republicans backing the legislation, Squadron's move leaves the measure one vote short, with insiders saying it would easily pass if it comes to the floor for a vote if and when the Senate breaks its stalemate and gets back to work.

"The bill maintains a clear line of accountability to the mayor while increasing transparency and parental involvement, which is what I always wanted to do," Squadron said.

Squadron is adding his name to the version of the Assembly bill introduced last week in the Senate by Queens Republican Frank Padavan.

Squadron's support comes days after new Senate Democratic conference leader John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), an advocate of weakened mayoral control, said he wants changes to the Assembly bill or he'd be willing to let the law expire on June 30.

Squadron said he spoke to Sampson, who told him to do what he thought was right. Squadron has previously sponsored a bill that would make it easier to audit the school system and another that would require increased parental involvement.

He said the Assembly bill - which Bloomberg also supports - satisfactorily addressed these issues.

The last major piece of legislation to pass without negotiations between the two houses was six years ago. At that time, the Assembly was forced to approve a take-it-or-leave-it bill that weakened rent stabilization laws after the Senate passed it and left town for the summer.

The Senate faces a similar situation this year. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he will send his members home at the end of the legislative session Monday, meaning the Senate has to act or the law will expire on June 30. If that happens, the school system would revert to the old system: a seven-member Board of Education with only two mayoral appointments and 32 elected school boards.

Making things more uncertain is the paralysis that has gripped the Senate since a June 8 Republican-led leadership coup that has warring senators fighting over who controls the chamber. Squadron said he has no intention of flipping sides to ensure the bill comes up for a vote.

Squadron's district overlaps with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who sponsored the Assembly version of the bill. Silver said he is "pleased" that Squadron is backing the bill, which he said "addresses concerns raised by legislators in both houses."