2007-01-18 / Top Stories

Kruger Claims Victory As Mayor Restores City's School Districts

State Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) today claimed victory after Mayor Bloomberg announced that he will abolish the large regions that have been responsible for overseeing the city schools system in favor of the 32 community school districts that had been overshadowed while the controversial regional model was in place - a move that Senator Kruger has sought to achieve since he first sued the city over the establishment of the regions back in 2002.

"We won," Kruger said after Mayor Bloomberg's announcement at the beginning of his "State of the City" address in Downtown Brooklyn.

"After years of court appearances and more court appearances, after we held countless meetings with parents' groups and unions, after we applied logical arguments that large regions defied common sense, the Mayor has finally recognized that his idea will never work in a public school system that has always counted among its chief attributes neighborhood accessibility," Senator Kruger said.

"The mayor's actions preserve the rule of law," he said.

"When we first filed the lawsuit, we knew the law was clear on this issue," said attorney Bruce Baron, who filed the suit on behalf of Senator Kruger and other plaintiffs. "It was just a matter of time."

Five years ago, Kruger, who represents constituents in School Districts 18 and 22, filed a lawsuit, joined by then-Assembly Education chairman Steve Sanders, the principals' union and other plaintiffs, over the Mayor's plan to consolidate the 32 community school districts into 10 regions. Senator Kruger was successful in preventing the districts' extinction - and in retaining the positions of district superintendents - but both their roles and offices were largely supplanted by the administrative powers of the new regions.

Along with the regions came an alarming sense of disenfranchisement, the senator said. "Parents who were used to dealing with neighborhood offices now had a huge bureaucracy to contend with, and the results were about as unpleasant as you might expect," he said.

Kruger said he is "encouraged" that the 32 district superintendents will "once again have the opportunity to become the CEOs of their individual districts."

The Brooklyn representative senator challenged the issue of how the Mayor's five-year-old regions would be dismantled - and at whose expense. "All of these changes were put in place with taxpayer money. Personnel throughout the five boroughs were hired, offices were built, and an entire network was structured that obviously cost millions in taxpayers' hard-earned dollars," he said.

"One wonders what happens to all of these people now, and how much more money it will take to re-fashion the system again," he added.

Nonetheless, Kruger pointed out that his court case remains active and assured those concerned that "if we have to go back to court again, we will."

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