Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke speaks highly of David W. Hornbeck, the latest candidate for Baltimore school superintendent, but refuses to name a favorite among the current contenders for the job.
"I have not in any way suggested to the school board my priorities or a ranking of candidates," said Schmoke after a press conference yesterday. "I'm impressed with what the man's written and what he stands for, but also have very good feelings about some of the other candidates."
Hornbeck, former state superintendent, became a candidate for the Baltimore job this week when Schmoke submitted his name to members of a school board search committee looking for a successor to Superintendent Richard C. Hunter, whose contract expires July 31.
Hornbeck, 49, who has lived in Baltimore for 14 years, 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.
Hornbeck joins five other candidates already named by the search committee. In addition, the committee is expected to reconsider at least four others who failed to make the search committee's current list, including three from within the school system.
Schmoke, who approached Hornbeck last week about becoming candidate, praised him as "imaginative and innovative."
"His position on the reform of the Kentucky schools, particularly this notion of bringing together combined services from other agencies into the school building, is really consistent with the way we've been moving here in the city," the mayor said.
The mayor said the school board's selection process continues. But he added, "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.
Meanwhile, 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 cut.
Most prominent among these 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 ask the board to reconsider those three and Bernardo.
The committee also will review the five current candidates who 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.