Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is so impressed with the school reform ideas of former state Superintendent David W. Hornbeck that he has asked a search committee to consider Hornbeck for the job of city school superintendent.
Hornbeck, 49, was state superintendent from 1976 to 1988 and is now a consultant to local governments on school reform. His recent work includes a far-ranging reform plan crafted for the state of Kentucky.
"His position on the reform of the Kentucky schools -- particularly this notion of bringing together combined services from other agencies in the school building -- is really consistent with the way we've been moving here in this city," Schmoke said today.
He called the 49-year-old attorney, a Knoxville, Tenn.-native who has lived here for 14 years, "imaginative and innovative."
However, the mayor refused to call Hornbeck the leading candidate for the superintendent's job, and said he also is impressed by some of the other contenders.
"I have not in any way suggested to the school board my priorities or a ranking of candidates," said Schmoke.
But he said that "Hornbeck's involvement in this process dispels any notion that we are not getting top-flight people who have applied."
The mayor also downplayed the fact that Hornbeck, who is white, is applying for the top job in a system that is more than 80 percent black.
"Race is not going to be the controlling issue in this selection process," he said.
Schmoke approached Hornbeck about applying for the job last week, at the suggestion of others who praised Hornbeck.
The mayor got the go-ahead from Hornbeck earlier this week toSee BOARD, submit his name to the committee looking for a replacement for Superintendent Richard C. Hunter, whose three-year term expires July 31 and who has not been offered a new contract.
Hornbeck now joins five others on a short list for the superintendent's spot -- but he may not be the last to join that list.
The mayor also has asked the search committee to reconsider the application of Charles M. Bernardo, former Montgomery County superintendent.
Board members also have been urged to reconsider some candidates from within the school system who had not made the most recent list.
Top among those possible candidates are Patsy B. Blackshear, a city associate superintendent; Leonard D. Wheeler, assistant superintendent of instruction for elementary schools; and Samuel L. Banks, director of instructional support.
School board Vice President Stelios Spiliadis, who took over this week as head of the search committee, said he plans to hold a meeting by next week, and will ask the board to reconsider those three and Bernardo.
The committee also will review the five current candidates that preceded Hornbeck on the list, some of whom could be dropped, he said.
Currently on the list are: Walter G. Amprey, an associate superintendent in Baltimore County; Leonard M. Britton, former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District; Jerome Clark, associate superintendent for personnel in Prince George's County; Lillian Gonzalez, assistant superintendent for special populations in Washington, D.C.; and Alfred D. Tutela, former superintendent in Cleveland, Ohio.
Spiliadis replaces the former search committee chief, Doris M. Johnson, who is leaving the school board after being appointed to the city Board of Election Supervisors, officials said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.