As some of the biggest news in New York City politics unfolded this morning, Mayor Bloomberg was focused on a story that hasn’t changed in more than a decade

He called a press conference to tout this year’s crop of new schools — 78 in all — at the same time as several elected officials were being arrested for trying to sell a slot on the mayoral ballot.

The 78 new schools, 26 of which are charters, represent the largest single-year total for an administration that has opened more than 650 schools since 2002. As the last new schools to open under Bloomberg, they also represent the uncertain future of the administration’s signature policies: closing low-performing schools and replacing them with new ones.

Compared to last year, when leaders from almost all of the new schools joined Bloomberg for the annual announcement, today’s press conference was relatively subdued, and Bloomberg alluded to criticism of his new school-creation spree even as he said he hoped his successor would extend it.

“Not everything has worked, but it would be wonderful if whoever comes after us continues the process,” he said, sidestepping a question about whether it would ever stop making sense to keep opening new schools. Bloomberg has attributed improvements in the city’s graduation rate to the new schools, but critics say the 50 percent increase in the number of city schools over the last decade has added cost and confusion without significant benefit.

In addition to championing small schools, Bloomberg has repeatedly pushed for more options in career and technical education. Of the 46 CTE schools that exist now, only 18 were open when his administration took office twelve years ago.

Ken Daly, president of one of the new school’s corporate partners, National Grid New York, said he hopes his company will one day employ graduates of the city’s career and technical education schools. “The hope and purpose of this partnership is that many of you can replaceu sadn become leaders in this industry,” he said.

“When I enter college, I know I will have communication skills beyond that of an average teenager,” said Camille Sanchez, a senior at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film, an existing CTE school. She said those skills came in large part from learning how to direct films.

The opening of these new schools, only three of which still need to be approved by the Panel on Education Policy, will also double the numer of six-year schools in NYC, which graduate students with a high school diploma and an associates degree.