City school overhall is urged Bureaucracy of city schools needs to be reformed, report says.

June 26, 1992|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Staff Writer

A nationally known consulting firm urged a sweeping overhaul of the city's school bureaucracy yesterday, saying the "culture of complacency that pervades the . . . public schools must be broken."

Still to be seen, however, was how much of the plan given to the school board last night would be put in place. School Superintendent Walter G. Amprey already has begun some changes of his own.

Among the key parts of the proposal drafted by Cresap/Towers Perrin, a consulting firm hired by Associated Black Charities, the Abell Foundation and other groups to assess the system's management:

* The elimination of 77 jobs in the bureaucracy at an estimated savings of $2.7 million over two years, including the elimination of 28 school police officers.

* Streamlining everything from school security to textbook purchasing by eliminating duplication, cutting excess staff, and shifting some work from headquarters to the schools themselves or to contractors and other city agencies.

* The hiring of a new school official who would free the superintendent of day-to-day management responsibilities.

* Creation of a cadre of 12 "executive directors" who would each oversee a cluster of 15 schools.

* More power for school principals, who would have more leeway to pick their staff, design their school's teaching programs, and the funds to purchase supplies and services.

* Creation of a network of so-called "enterprise schools," with greater authority over their own operations, and incentives for good performance. The consultants envision about 25 of these schools in the first year, and more each year. But they also recommend that schools lose this designation if they fail to meet performance goals.

The consultants hammered away at the need for a dramatic change in the relationship between the central bureaucracy and local schools.

"The last thing the Baltimore City public schools need is to undergo another reorganization that gives the illusion of progress, while masking the fact that very little has changed in the way of educational services delivered to students," they said.

And while they recognized the school system's morale problems, the consultants said there needs to be a fundamental change in employee attitudes.

"The expectation must be clearly communicated that employees who do not get with the program will be left behind," they said.

The study now goes to Dr. Amprey, who is expected to use it in making specific recommendations to the school board.

He praised the consultants' work, particularly the suggestions for giving more decision-making authority to individual schools and making the bureaucracy more businesslike.

Among other things, Dr. Amprey's plan calls for the city to be divided into six regions.

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