Neall wants Florestano on board

January 28, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall has nominated Thomas Florestano, the retiring president of Anne Arundel Community College, to fill in for five months on the county Board of Education.

More than 30 applicants have been scrambling for the seat, vacated abruptly earlier this month by Jo Ann Tollenger for what she called "personal reasons."

The choice of who will complete her term, which expires June 30, is up to Gov. William Donald Schaefer. In past years, the governor has always chosen the county executive's preferred candidate to fill vacant board seats.

"The appointments office has received 10 names for consideration, but a list has not yet been prepared for the governor," said Joseph L. Harrison Jr., a spokesman for the governor. "Usually a name or a ranking is given to the governor before he makes his final choice."

Mr. Neall's office had received about 30 names of individuals seeking the seat, including 12 recommendations from the Anne Arundel Trade Council.

In the letter mailed to the governor Wednesday, Mr. Neall wrote: "Dr. Florestano is uniquely qualified to assist our school system in this crucial period. No one knows the school system 'product' better than he does -- nearly 50 percent of our high school graduates attend our community college."

He praised Dr. Florestano as someone who can "both lead and build consensus."

The school system has been in turmoil since the discovery last April that a teacher at Northeast High School had been having sex with a 16-year-old student at the school.

Two investigations into the matter -- faulting the school system's negligence in handling suspected child-abuse cases, particularly those involving employees -- led to the resignation of C. Berry Carter II from the superintendent's post.

Dr. Florestano, reached at home last night, was perhaps as surprised as anyone at his nomination.

"It may sound schmaltzy, but I've been a public servant all my life, and if asked I will serve," said Dr. Florestano, who said he was approached by Mr. Neall about two weeks ago, but had not heard anything else until yesterday. "I know I can do a holding action on the bridge and help the board search for a replacement for the superintendent's job."

Dr. Florestano knows all about searching for a replacement -- he's retiring in June, after 15 years as president of AACC, and he's keeping a close eye on the search for the person who will succeed him.

Although he has some ideas about how he could be effective in the five months remaining in Ms. Tollenger's term, Dr. Florestano says he wants no part of a full five-year term on the board.

In addition to Ms. Tollenger, Dorothy Chaney, a two-term school board member, also will leave office this year. Board members are not allowed to serve more than two terms.

Dr. Florestano said he would remain as the community college president while acting as a school board member.

Others who applied for the five-month stint were Nancy Schrum, president of the Bodkin Elementary School PTA, and Margarett Whilden, former president of the Lower Broadneck Federation of Community Associations.

Ms. Schrum expressed disappointment last night that she had not heard from Mr. Neall, despite the endorsement she received from Pasadena Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland.

"Is this politics? I don't know," she said. "But if the governor approves him, I wish him the best of luck, and before he casts a vote I hope he remembers how the vote will affect the children of Anne Arundel County."

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