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Chancellor Begins Job With Five-Borough School Tour

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New Schools Chancellor Cathie Black officially took the reins of the city school system Monday.

Much like former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein did at the beginning of each school year, Black spent her first day on the job visiting five schools – one in each borough.

"A change in leadership, I believe, is a very good thing, whether it's in the private sector or the public sector," said Black. "Because it represents an opportunity for a fresh set of eyes to look at a set of different problems. And I believe that my management experience for a very long period of time is going to be an asset to the Department of Education and to our schools."

Her first stop was P.S. 262 El Hajj Malik El Shabazz in Brooklyn. There, she, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor for Education Denis Walcott, met with parents and students outside, before going inside to chat with teachers and administrators.

She then went on to visit a Queens transfer high school for students at risk of dropping out, a performing arts high school in the Bronx and a Manhattan charter school.

Black finished her tour at a school on Staten Island for students with the most severe disabilities.

"I think like everybody I am touched by it and by the progress and commitment of the teachers and principal," said Black. "It's been a very informative day and I am raring to get going. I wore short sleeves, so I can roll my sleeves up and I'm all set."

"I want every school in this city to be a center of innovation and achievement," said the mayor. "We want everyone of our children to gain the skills they need to live out their dreams. And I know that Chancellor Black can help make that happen."

Black has been touring schools across the city since November, when Bloomberg tapped her to replace Klein.

She twice told reporters that she has already visited all types of schools, but it turns out the former publishing executive has seen only schools rated either an "A," "B" or "C" by the Department of Education.

Black is expected to hold her first cabinet meeting Tuesday. When asked about specific policies, the new chancellor continued to be vague.

"We will be working on priorities over the course of the next 30 to 60 days," Black said.

A judge last week tossed three lawsuits seeking to overturn Black's appointment. The lawsuits claimed the publishing executive was not qualified to run the school system because she does not have any background in education.

The schools chancellor insisted that Black create the new position of chief academic officer in order to grant the waiver allowing her to serve.

Klein left the job to take a position with News Corp.

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