County Council and school board members, who have been at odds, will vent their frustrations to a former school superintendent in the next three weeks.
Dr. Edward Anderson, superintendent of Anne Arundel County schools from 1968 to 1984, agreed earlier this week to volunteer as a consultant to the council and the board, interviewing schooland county officials to discover the reasons behind the tension. He conducted his first interviews yesterday, starting with Councilman George Bachman, D-Linthicum.
Anderson also plans to interview school Superintendent Larry Lorton, County Executive Robert R. Neall and county auditors and budget officials.
The former superintendent, who is working free of charge, hopes to make recommendations for eliminating friction between the school board and the county.
"If people can't open up and say exactly what they want to me, I will be useless," he said. "This will not focus on the budget. It will focus on people reacting to people," he said.
Anderson outlined his plans Tuesday to a council-appointededucational task force composed of members of the council, school board and county executive's office. The task force, created to exploreschool spending reforms, grew out of afailed council resolution to deny the school board extra money until it changed its spending patterns.
Board members were angered by the resolution, sponsored by council members Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold, George Bachman, D-Linthicum and Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena. The creation of the task forcewas seen as a compromise measure.
The atmosphere has been polite but strained at the three meetings the task force has held so far.
County administrator Adrian Teel, a veteran county official, said this is neither the first nor the worst example of tensions between county government and the school board. Friction is typical after a major transition in government such as Anne Arundel has been experiencing since November, he said.
"But why not do it?" he said, speaking of Anderson's plan.
Anderson dismissed any notion that the conflicts between high-level officials are of political importance only, with no bearing on the classroom. "Decisions made at the upper level impact every classroom in the system. Ever teacher will probably feel, 'Look what they've done to me now.' "
Anderson, who has 32 years experience as a school superintendent and has written a book on education, said he will present his interim report to the task force in three weeks.