Education secretary to Council prez: Remember, state's in charge

Hughes
Hughes
Posted: June 21, 2011

City Council is set to sit down with school-district officials and the School Reform Commission today to talk about how the district will use the additional $53 million in funding to which Council has given preliminary approval.

But, according to Council sources, state Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis yesterday called Council President Anna Verna, reminding her that the schools are ultimately under state control.

Those sources said that Tomalis stressed to Verna that the state-controlled SRC has full authority over the schools and that Council cannot direct funding. As part of last week's deal to raise property taxes by 3.85 percent for one year to provide more money to the schools, Council wanted assurances that the funding would go to four key priorities - early-childhood education, yellow buses, alternative schools and smaller class sizes.

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said that she would work with Council. But Tomalis' message seemed to be that any deal would have little legal weight.

Verna declined to comment on the conversation. A call to Tomalis' press office was not immediately returned last night.

Council's deal needs to receive final passage on Thursday. Besides raising property taxes for one year, it will hike parking-meter fees and cut the city's surplus budget.

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