NYC schools: Mayoral control extension to be decided after state budget passes, Stewart-Cousins says

NYC schools chancellor David Banks with Mayor Eric Adams
Schools Chancellor David Banks (left) and Mayor Eric Adams (right). State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said an extension of mayoral control will not be included in the state budget and will be dealt with afterwards. Wednesday, April 3, 2024.
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

As state budget negotiations rage on, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Wednesday said an extension of mayoral control over New York City public schools sought by Mayor Eric Adams will not be included in the final spending plan.

The majority leader confirmed the expected move when a reporter asked if a four-year extension of mayoral control would be included in the state budget in Albany on Wednesday afternoon. Stewart-Cousins simply responded, “No.”

However, there are still several items holding up the passage of a final Fiscal Year 2025 state budget. The spending plan is already three days beyond its April 1 deadline due to disagreements between Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Gov. Kahty Hochul over several key issues including housing reforms, cracking down on retail theft and state public school funding.

A spokesperson for Stewart-Cousins later said mayoral control is being left out of the budget because it has no “fiscal requirements.” Instead, they said, it will be tackled after the budget process is complete — as has been the practice in previous years when mayoral control came up for an extension.

On top of that, Albany legislators are also awaiting a state Education Department report on the effectiveness of mayoral control. The study was supposed to be released March 31, but the department blew past its deadline and pledged to release it early next week, according to a published report.

Confident he’ll keep control

Adams, when asked about the news following a news conference at NYPD headquarters in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon, appeared nonplussed.

“It’s gonna be alright, I wish I had a nice voice so I could sing ‘it’s gonna be alright,” Adams said in a sing-song voice.

Mayoral spokesperson Amaris Cockfield, in a statement, expressed the administration is optimistic it will walk away with an extension of the policy before the state legislative session ends in tow months.

We have a long way until June, but we will continue working with legislators to best prioritize our students and we are confident that they will deliver for nearly 1 million New York City public school students that are counting on them to do so,” Cockfield said.

The mayor is seeking to lead the city’s public schools for another four years, after the state legislature granted him just two more years in 2022

While Hochul has given her full-throated support to leaving Adams in charge of city schools in her executive budget proposal, Stewart-Cousins and Heastie did not back the measure in their own budget plans.

The revelation comes a day after Schools Chancellor David Banks came to Albany to make a latch ditch effort to get the policy included in the state budget. 

“We think that we’ve done a great job rebuilding trust with our families and our communities, and we’ve been delivering real results,” Banks told reporters Tuesday. “The mayor is fully engaged. The mayor is absolutely in touch with all the key leaders in the state Legislature that he needs to be in touch with.”

Heastie, during a Tuesday news conference, conceded Banks has done a “good job” running the city’s school system for the past two years.

“I think Chancellor Banks is up here doing his job,” Heastie said. “I think he’s done a good job overseeing the education of the children in the city in New York.”