JERSEY CITY - A decision today gave back nearly complete public school control to Jersey City.

A corruption scandal in the district led to a takeover in 1989 by the state Board of Education.

Since then, the Senate, not the locally elected Board of Education, has called most of the shots.

Superindent Marcia Lyles says the change sends a strong signal to families of the district's more than 25,000 students.

"That's the message that parents want to know, that they're involved in a community effort that is really going to work for their children," says Lyles.

State officials say progress in the district's finances and operations proves it deserves local control.

Mayor Steven Fulop says removing the stigma of a state takeover has broader benefits.

"If you don't have a school system that is growing and strong, people choose to leave and go to the suburbs," says Fulop.

Instruction and programming are still under state control, but that's expected to be lifted by spring.

Paterson and Newark are the other two school districts under state control. They are also in the beginning stages of a return to local control.