Finalists for the job of Baltimore school superintendent begin a marathon, two-day round of interviews tomorrow as the search for a new school chief enters the home stretch.
Each of the five finalists identified by a search committee last week will meet with school unions, community and business groups, and the local clergy.
And, in what school board President Joseph L. Smith termed an "unprecedented move," each of the five will hold a 30-minute news conference as part of the interview process.
Three candidates are scheduled to run the gantlet tomorrow at the New Community College of Baltimore's Liberty Campus: Charles M. Bernardo, former Montgomery County superintendent; Lillian Gonzalez, assistant superintendent in Washington, D.C.; and Patsy B. Blackshear, associate superintendent for management services, human resources and labor relations in Baltimore.
On Saturday, the final two candidates will be on display -- Walter G. Amprey, associate superintendent for the division of staff and community relations in Baltimore County; and David W. Hornbeck, former state school superintendent.
Both Hornbeck and Amprey were referred to the board by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who is expected to interview all five candidates.
School board members -- all of whom already have interviewed the candidates at least once -- are to be on hand to see how their finalistshold up under pressure.
"The object is to introduce the candidates to all those interested parties and have them engage in a dialogue," said Stelios Spiliadis, school board vice president and head of the search committee.
The candidates will have closed meetings with representatives of the Greater Baltimore Committee, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Associa
tion. They also will meet with an assortment of community groups, including the League of Women Voters, the Baltimore Council of PTAs, the NAACP, the Fund for Educational Excellence and the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.
When the interview process is completed, "I'm sure that the board would like to briefly see them for a last time," said Spiliadis. "Subsequent to that, we will review the input, . . . put that together with our own perceptions and begin to crys
tallize into a decision."
Spiliadis said the search committee could make its final choice as early as the first week of July, but added, "We don't feel pressured to do that."
The three-year contract of current Superintendent Richard C. Hunter expires July 31. The board decided last December not to offer Hunter a new contract after a series of policy disagreements between the mayor and the superintendent.