City schools woo former state chief Hornbeck gets a call from Mayor Schmoke.

May 30, 1991|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Evening Sun Staff

A former state school superintendent has been asked by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to become a candidate for city school superintendent.

David W. Hornbeck, 49, was state superintendent from 1976 to 1988 and is now a consultant to local governments on issues of school reform.

The mayor got the go-ahead from Hornbeck earlier this week to submit his name to the search committee looking for a replacement to Superintendent Richard C. Hunter, whose three-year term expires July 31 and who has not been offered another contract.

The mayor has since talked with Joseph L. Smith, board president, and Stelios Spiliadis, the new head of the school board's search committee, about adding Hornbeck to the list of candidates, according to Clinton R. Coleman, spokesman for the mayor.

Coleman said it was Schmoke who first approached Hornbeck about applying for the job, and that the mayor was impressed by the former state superintendent's writings on school reform and by the far-ranging reform plan Hornbeck crafted for the state of Kentucky.

Hornbeck is an attorney and a native of Knoxville, Tenn. who has lived in Baltimore for 14 years. Both of his sons graduated from Baltimore public schools.

Coleman said, however, that the mayor's interest does not necessarily make Hornbeck a shoo-in for the superintendent's job.

"I think that would be jumping the gun," said the mayor's spokesman. "He's going to go through the same process everyone else will go through."

Hornbeck now joins five other candidates on a short-list for the superintendent's spot -- but he may not be the last to join that list.

The mayor earlier this month urged board members to take their time in picking the best candidate for superintendent and to expand the pool of candidates, if appropriate.

In particular, he had urged board members 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, associate superintendent for management services, human resources and labor relations; Leonard D. Wheeler, assistant superintendent of instruction for elementary schools; and Samuel L. Banks, director of instructional support.

Spiliadis said he plans to hold a meeting by next week and would ask the board to reconsider those three. He also will ask the board to take another look at Charles M. Bernardo, former Montgomery County superintendent.

The committee also will review data on the five current candidates, aside from Hornbeck, all of whom have been interviewed by some members of the board. Some of those candidates could be culled from the list, he said.

"I want to move forward and do it efficiently, effectively and quickly," said Spiliadis. "I think we need to arrive at a decision."

But he set no deadline for the committee to name a new superintendent.

Spiliadis is taking over as head of the search committee this week because the previous chief is leaving the school board after being appointed to the city Board of Election Supervisors, officials said.

Doris M. Johnson, a board member since March 1983, will leave because of a state assistant attorney general's opinion that a member of the election board cannot hold another public office at the same time.

Johnson was named to the five-member election board by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in February and will earn $8,500 a year.

Johnson's term on the school board formally expired at the end of last year, but she had remained on the board pending renomination by Schmoke.

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