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Principals Worried About Shakeup When De Blasio Takes Over Schools Mid-Year

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Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio takes office on January 1 at the start of a new year, but the school system operates on a different calendar. When he takes office, the school year will be half over, which has administrators and teachers worried the timing will make the transition process even more complicated. Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

The last time a new mayor took control of city government, he did not take control of the school system. It took several months for Michael Michael Bloomberg to convince Albany to let him take over city schools.

When he finally did, it was summertime, the logical time for big changes to the school system.

Bill de Blasio will now be the first mayor to inherit control of the schools and he'll be doing it in the middle of the school year.

“This is an unusual moment in the history of our schools. We've never had a transition because of mayoral control of schools, because mayoral control didn't exist before this mayor and so having that mid-year transition is a big deal,” said Chief Academic Officer of the Department of Education Shael Polakow-Suransky.

In 2002, Bloomberg announced Joel Klein's appointment in late July. Klein took charge as the new school year began.

But de Blasio will need to choose his chancellor in the coming weeks, so principals and teachers will have someone new to report to when they come back from their holiday vacations.

Like Bloomberg, de Blasio has pledged to make some big changes to the city's largest agency.

“You're going to see a lot of energy in favor of us taking a turn towards really addressing inequality and doing it the right way,” de Blasio said in September.

Many teachers and principals said they’re already up to their neck in major changes this school year, a new curriculum and teacher evaluation system, both mandated by the state.

At a forum on the future of city schools, Polakow-Suransky brought up the same concern.

“It's a big set of tasks that are on people's plates already and so, there will, I'm sure, be some changes, but making sure that as we make changes we take into account the real work that is already in play,” Polakow-Suransky said.

Principals are already speaking up.

On Friday, a letter signed by 120 principals went to the mayor-elect, asking him to go easy on shaking up the system they currently rely on.

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