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Republican candidate supports mayoral control of Syracuse schools

Ellen Abbott
Republican candidate for Syracuse mayor, Laura Lavine, at a press conference Tuesday.

Syracuse Mayoral Hopeful Laura Lavine says, if elected, she would push for mayoral control of the Syracuse City School District.

Under the approach favored by Lavine, Syracuse’s Mayor would be accountable for the performance of city schools. Lavine has worked in education for 40 years, most recently as superintendent of the Lafayette School District. The Republican calls the current state of the Syracuse school district “dismal,” citing test scores, graduation rates, and teacher turnover.  

Lavine says districts with mayoral control are more successful because they provide more continuity.

"Urban superintendents don’t have as much longevity that other superintendents have. You add to that the fact that school board members turn over. You might have two or three or four school board members being re-elected every two or three or four years. So in a short period of time, you’ve lost consistency, you’ve lost the focus,” Lavine said. “With mayoral controls you have one person who’s ultimately responsible with what goes on in the schools.”

There would still be a school board under this system. It would be appointed by the mayor, and then would have to be approved by the Syracuse Common Council. A superintendent would still oversee operations. The state legislature would also have to sign off on mayoral control.

"It’s just a question of making sure we’re giving the school the superintendent the resources and support needed, to operate the school district, to increase student achievement, to increase the graduation rate, and make sure that somebody is ultimately responsible for this,” Lavine said.

Probably the most high profile example of mayoral control is in New York City. Lavine also cites New Haven, Connecticut as an example of mayoral control of schools.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.