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Three upstate mayors discuss mayoral control of schools

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes is set to introduce a bill in Albany Monday that calls for mayoral control of the Buffalo Public School District.  WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley met exclusively with three Upstate New York mayors asking if they believe it's a solution for a troubled district. 

"I think it really depends on the district and where they are because there are some studies out there that show districts that do have mayoral control have higher performance," said  Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. She offered her reaction to proposed legislation for a mayoral takeover of  the Buffalo school district. 

Like Buffalo, Albany struggles with student performance.  Sheehan said she realizes property taxpayers expect results and change. 

"In Albany -- we've really started to work very closely with our school district.  We have a umbrella group called the Albany Promise that takes higher education, the school district, government, the community based organizations, so that we can all be working and rowing in the same direction," stated Mayor Sheehan.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie  Miner tells WBFO News she's in favor of looking at a variety of models that could work to improve student results.  But Minor is not in favor of just looking at models without resources. 

"Because the issues of poverty, of violence, of systemic under performance need resources to resolve it, so I don't think it is fair to just say mayors we're going to give you all rules and responsibilities for education children and we are not going to give you the resources," said Mayor Minor.

In the city of Rochester, less than half of the city students are graduating. The debate of mayoral control started in 2010 under former mayor Robert Duffy. But current Mayor Lovely Warren isn't considering it. 

"You know I would just ask for time if they decided to do this so that we could evaluate and get our ducks in a row.  But I've chosen to really try to work with in the system that we have  with our superintendent and our school board and all parities concerned  to do what's best on behalf of children," said Mayor Warren.

Mayor Warren tells WBFO  she regularly visits city schools to talk with students.  The Governor has also assisted Rochester with  an anti-poverty initiative to give families support needed to help children. Mayor Warren says she believes every child should be enrolled in Pre-K by the age of three.   


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