GBC favors state takeover of city schools as last resort Business group impatient with pace of reform.

February 28, 1991|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Evening Sun Staff

The Greater Baltimore Committee favors a state takeover of Baltimore schools, unless major improvements are made in the next few years.

The business group outlined its views to the state school board yesterday, part of an overall briefing on education.

The GBC stance reflects the business community's impatience with the pace of school reforms in Baltimore, said Bob Keller, president of the group.

"There's got to be fundamental radical reform, and is that happening? Certainly not to our satisfaction," said Keller, speaking after the briefing.

Yesterday's discussion was the second time this week that state officials heard talk of state takeover of the city school system.

Earlier this week, Del. Paul Weisengoff, D-City, introduced a bill that would turn administration of the school system over to the state, saying Baltimore does not have the money to offer adequate education.

The GBC's takeover proposal, first mentioned in a report by the group last month, would be a last resort if other measures fail to improve the city schools.

Initially, the group is calling for massive new state aid -- at least $150 million a year -- to bring city school funding up to par with the rest of the region. It also proposes an extensive, multiyear push to improve the quality of the city schools.

If the city still fails to make progress in meeting state school performance standards, the state should consider taking them over, the group says.

Robert C. Embry Jr., president of the state board, said the GBC's proposal is similar to proposals contained in the Sondheim Commission study on school performance, which would give the state board authority to close schools that fail to improve.

"They're losing patience with the education in the city," he said of the business group.

A spokesman for the school system opposed the takeover suggestion, and said such a move would be unnecessary if Baltimore's funding was brought up to par with funding in nearby jurisdictions.

"You give us the equity funding . . . we'll be able to meet the standards," said Douglas J. Neilson, who stressed that it would take several years to meet those objectives.

But Neilson said he was not optimistic about the possibility of a new infusion of state money.

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