County Executive Robert R. Neall has parted ways with the county's School Board Nominating Convention in recommending who should fill two vacancies on the Board of Education.
Neall yesterday sent a letter to Gov. William Donald Schaefer recommending the appointment of Joseph Foster, one of the convention's choices, and Michael Pace, a runner-up for the other vacancy.
Margarett Whilden, the convention's choice to fill the seat representing District 32, did not receive Neall's recommendation.
The new board members will replace Nancy Gist, who represents District 32, and Paul Greksa, who holds an at-large seat. Both decided not to seek reappointment.
The new board members could be announced in time for today's school board meeting, set for 9 a.m. at board headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis. At that meeting, the board is expected to announce a new school superintendent to replace Larry L. Lorton, who resigned earlier this year.
While Neall had said he intended to follow the convention's recommendations, he also said he wanted the school board to include members with some breadth beyond former educators and parents.
"I have interviewed the candidates receiving the most votes for each vacancy," Neall wrote to the governor. "I have also given much thought to the current membership of the board and to the qualities and talents most likely to combine effectively with those of other members.
"I am confident in recommending Michael Pace and Joseph Foster that I am fulfilling my responsibility as county executive to do all I can to assure that the management of the county's educational system benefits from the best leadership available."
Pace is a Crofton attorney who served as an adviser to both Neall and former County Executive O. James Lighthizer. Foster is an information system's manager with Westinghouse Corp.
Schaefer may accept or reject Neall's recommendation.
Board members have been extremely close-mouthed about the next superintendent, refusing to provide any information on the number or identity of the candidates interviewed for the position.
Both acting Superintendent C. Berry Carter II and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Cheryl Wilhoyte have been named possible successors to Lorton.
Lorton resigned in February as he neared the end of an often rocky four-year term. Many in the school system believe he resigned to circumvent the board's impending decision not to renew his contract.
Carter, who has been with the school system for 38 years, has been deputy superintendent since 1974. A favorite with community members, Carter has been passed over for the top job twice, even while the school board has called on him to fill the position as it searched for yet another superintendent.
Wilhoyte, who has been in her current position since 1988, came to the county after working as a special assistant to the Montgomery County superintendent. Wilhoyte, who has been praised for her work to improve minority student achievement in the county, has a doctorate in philosophy.
"If it's true, and the board is deciding between Berry and Dr. Wilhoyte, then it's a no-lose situation," said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park. "Both are very competent. Both are very familiar with the school system.
"I've known Berry a very long time, and I know he has the ability to respond and run the system. I can't help but hope he'll get the nod. But if it's either one, it's definitely a win-win situation for the school system," Jimeno added.
In addition, a new president and vice president of the board are expected to be announced. Jo Ann Tollenger is the current president, Vincent O. Leggett, vice president.