ALBANY – If Mayor Byron W. Brown wants to take control of the Buffalo school system, he is going to have to spend political capital – and taxpayer money.
Property taxpayers in Yonkers, whose mayor exerts influence over that city’s school district, fund 41 percent of the school system’s budget.
Buffalo taxpayers, by contrast, now fund only about 8 percent of the city school district budget.
And while Brown has not yet made clear whether he wants an outright takeover of the School Board, or just some of the seats, history suggests that his path would be difficult in Albany, which needs to approve any increase of mayoral control or input into the district decision-making.
Brown’s path could become easier if Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gets out front and uses his political muscle to drive the matter.
That has not happened, but sources suggested that the idea Brown floated this week did not begin at City Hall. These sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Cuomo quietly has been promoting the idea of giving mayors in a couple of cities – Buffalo and Yonkers – new powers over their school systems.
Last year, Cuomo vowed to push a “death penalty” plan for failing urban schools, but that never materialized. The mayoral takeover idea could be part of a Plan B, officials suggested.
Just something to keep an eye on from the governor who has no control over education policy in the state.