Running New York’s Schools Once Came With a Nice House

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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has played up Cathleen P. Black’s record of business success in nominating her to be the next schools chancellor. He has, perhaps wisely, omitted one asset Ms. Black brings to the job: a drool-inducing collection of homes in which to hold killer end-of-school-year parties. Ms. Black owns a Park Avenue penthouse with a gourmet kitchen, a five-bedroom Connecticut colonial and a Southampton weekend getaway.

It was not that long ago that the chancellor’s title came with its own home. In 1990, the city bought a four-story brownstone at 80 State Street in Brooklyn Heights for $995,000 to persuade Joseph A. Fernandez to accept the job. For the next decade, it was a perk passed down to other chancellors and became the educator’s equivalent of Gracie Mansion. The home was an easy walk from 110 Livingston Street, the headquarters of the Board of Education.

Just as Abigail Adams braved the drafts of the White House and Rudolph W. Giuliani tolerated rats scuttling across his porch at Gracie Mansion, chancellors who lived there say the house was not as glamorous as it sounds. Ramon C. Cortines, who was chancellor from 1993 to 1995, said his contract required him to live there....

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