Two key city legislators made a last-ditch effort this week to interest Baltimore's popular deputy school superintendent, J. Edward Andrews Jr., in the city school superintendency -- without success.
Delegate Howard P. Rawlings, D-Baltimore, and Delegate Anne S. Perkins, D-Baltimore, met with Dr. Andrews on June 6, offered him the prospect of a free apartment in the city during his term and even asked state School Superintendent Joseph L. Shilling to lobby Dr. Andrews -- but to no avail, according to Mr. Rawlings. On Monday, Dr. Andrews said no.
Dr. Andrews, 55, a former Montgomery County superintendent who came to Baltimore two years ago to aid superintendent Richard C. Hunter's reorganization plans, said yesterday that he intends to return to his job as a visiting professor of education administration at the University of Maryland in College Park.
The delegates' push followed repeated efforts by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to interest Dr. Andrews in applying for the top city schools job. Mr. Rawlings and Ms. Perkins met with Mr. Schmoke before approaching Dr. Andrews, Mr. Rawlings said. "He indicated he would welcome our intervention in trying to convince Ed to stay," Mr. Rawlings added.
Mr. Schmoke, however, said he merely told the two legislators that Dr. Andrews has repeatedly refused to apply for the job. "The only thing I said to Pete and Anne was, 'If you want to talk to him, fine. This is what he's said to me.' " Mr. Schmoke said.
Mr. Schmoke said he approached Dr. Andrews to apply for the superintendency at the urging of various groups including the Greater Baltimore Committee and school unions. "There've been lot of people that have said, 'Will Dr. Andrews stay?' " Mr. Schmoke said. "And that was really what prompted me to talk to him about it in the first place."
The city school board this week announced a list of five finalists for the superintendency. The finalists are expected to meet with community groups, school unions and the news media next weekend before the board selects a replacement for Dr. Hunter, whose three-year contract will be allowed to expire July 31.
Mr. Schmoke, who last month asked board members to reopen their search, said he is satisfied that the finalists do not represent "second best."
"I think this is an outstanding group, and I'm looking forward to meeting with each of the candidates," the mayor said.
The finalists are Walter G. Amprey, a Baltimore County associate superintendent; Charles M. Bernardo, a former Montgomery County school superintendent; Patsy B. Blackshear, a city associate superintendent; Lillian Gonzalez, an assistant superintendent in the District of Columbia schools, and David W. Hornbeck, Maryland's former state school superintendent.
Mr. Hornbeck joined the pool of candidates late last month at the invitation of Mr. Schmoke, who also asked Dr. Amprey to apply for the job earlier this year.
Delegate Rawlings, who had criticized a short list of candidates announced by the board in April, said the new list of finalists is "a substantial improvement over the previous list of five. But the candidate that I support, although he's indicated he's not interested, is Ed Andrews."
Mr. Rawlings said he was attracted to Dr. Andrews' track record in education and his rapport with the legislature at a time when significant school funding proposals are coming up. Mr. Hornbeck had "strained" relations with several key members of the legislature during his tenure as state superintendent, Mr. Rawlings said. The other four finalists lack Dr. Andrews' record, he said.
In their talks with Dr. Andrews, Mr. Rawlings said the delegates pledged to obtain legislative waivers of state retirement rules that prevent Dr. Andrews from taking a full-time job without losing retirement benefits. They also promised an apartment paid for by city businesses. And they enlisted the persuasive efforts of State Superintendent Shilling, a longtime associate of Dr. Andrews. Both Dr. Shilling and Mr. Rawlings followed up with phone calls to Dr. Andrews on Monday. Dr. Andrews said no.
"I love this city, and I really think it [education] could work here," said Dr. Andrews, who acknowledged agonizing over the decision to return to College Park. But, he said, "my job is there, and I've been up here for two of the last three years."