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Wyandanch, Hempstead school monitor bills up to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has until Dec. 31

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has until Dec. 31 to sign bills to install state monitors to oversee the Hempstead and Wyandanch school districts. Credit: Charles Eckert

With a deadline looming, the fate of bills to install state monitors with extensive veto powers to oversee the Hempstead and Wyandanch school districts hangs in the balance.

The State Legislature approved the bills in the waning hours of its 2019 session in June. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has until Dec. 31 to act on bills passed in the calendar year (there are some exceptions to this, but they are rarely invoked).

The proposed monitor for Wyandanch would have an unusual degree of power, including the authority to veto district spending as well as appointments of new superintendents. In the larger Hempstead district, a three-person panel would be created.

The Hempstead bill was sponsored by Assemb. Taylor Darling (D-Hempstead) and Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown). The Wyandanch bill was backed by Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights) and Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford).

The bills have been subject of extensive talks between the legal and policy staffs of the Senate, Assembly and the governor's office, multiple sources said. Proponents say the monitors are needed to help clean up financial messes in the districts, which are reducing staff because of chronic budget problems.

But some officials are concerned the appointment is too heavy-handed a measure. The Hempstead school board has criticized the proposal sharply. State funding for the monitors also is an issue.

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