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NY1 News looks back on 2013 with our annual Year In Review series of reports.

2013 Education Year In Review: School Bus Drivers Go On Strike, City Fails To Reach Evaluation Deal With Teachers

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The Bloomberg administration's last year in control of city schools involved two big battles with two different unions and the difficult work of changing something fundamental to education: what students are supposed learn each day. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

When 2012 ended, 5,400 students were still studying in temporary locations, as their original school buildings were not back yet from Hurricane Sandy.

Within the first two weeks of 2013, every building reopened.

Just as the final students returned, however, the school buses stopped running. Drivers went on strike, protesting the city putting out bids for new bus contracts without seniority protections.

"I feel awful. We all do," said Mario Scotto, a bus driver. "We all want to go back to work, but the mayor has to come to some agreement with us."

It forced 150,000 students, a third of whom had special needs, to find another way to school. Many didn't. A month later, the strike ended, with the city winning the fight.

In the middle of the bus strike, there was an issue with another union: the teachers' union. Talks with City Hall broke down at 3 a.m. on the day of the deadline to agree on a new evaluation system. The city is the only school district in the state that doesn't reach a deal, a failure that costs hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.

"We're dealing with an administration that we don't get along with," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

"They just don't want to have their members evaluated," Bloomberg said.

Months later, in June, the state finally stepped in and imposed a new evaluation system on the city. In September, all 17,000 schools began putting it in place.

City schools have also been adopting a new set of learning standards called the Common Core. New text books and other curriculum materials were ordered for September, months after the state first tested students on the new material. As expected, test scores plummeted.

"These results represent a new baseline, a new starting point for improvement going forward," said State Education Commissioner John King.

With Bloomberg the first mayor to control the city school system, the campaign to replace him triggered countless debates over the Department of Education's future, as well as the legacy of the outgoing self-proclaimed "education mayor," something Bloomberg's supporters and critics remain sharply divided over.

When Bill de Blasio wins the election, he promises that a different chapter for city schools begins in 2014.

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