Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Last Day of School Ends Year of Transition at DOE

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As the school year ends, NY1’s Lindsey Christ takes a look back at an eventful school year that saw a handoff from one administration to another.

The mayor has been running city schools since 2003, but this was the first time a school year was divided between two different administrations in City Hall.

When the year began, it was Mayor Michael Bloomberg offering words of wisdom.

"The only piece of advice I can give you from somebody who's about to be unemployed in another three months, is you gotta work hard,” said Bloomberg.

Even before Bill de Blasio won the election, he was working hard to sell his signature initiative: universal pre-kindergarten.

He also pledged to focus less on test scores and accountability and more on supporting students socially and emotionally.

And as soon as de Blasio won the election, the Department of Education began changing some policies, including the decision not to close any schools for poor performance this year.

"We're in the middle of our school year, so it's incumbent on us of having a very smooth transition from one chancellor to the new chancellor,” said former Schools Chancellor Dennis Wolcott.

But de Blasio took his time appointing his new chancellor. Dennis Walcott celebrated his last school day on December 20. Ten days later, de Blasio said Carmen Farina would take over the job.

"Literally no one knows our school system better. Her career spanned over forty years, all in New York City public schools,” said Farina.

The new mayor and chancellor continued to focus on universal pre-K.

"I have a mission. The people of this city have given me a mission,” said de Blasio.

And while he never got the new tax he'd wanted approved in Albany, he did manage to secure the funding anyway.

Other challenges that didn’t work out as well included snow days and snowy days where he didn't declare a snow day. And a heated battle with charter school operators that in the end, de Blasio lost.

Now the city is responsible for paying charter schools' rent.

De Blasio had more success with the teachers union, a longtime ally. As the school year wound down, teachers approved a nine-year, $9 billion contract deal, their first in years.

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