Relations thaw as Berger, Hayden trade promises

April 01, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

A few days, a few dollars and a willingness to compromise have ended the cold war between the Baltimore County executive and school superintendent.

County Executive Roger B. Hayden yesterday called off his attempt to get state legislation that would require Superintendent Stuart Berger to answer the administration's requests for budget information within 10 days.

Dr. Berger, for his part, agreed to give the executive the information he asks for within 20 days. And the two agreed to meet regularly.

Relations between the school system and Mr. Hayden, himself a former school board president, have been frosty since the board hired the outspoken Dr. Berger in 1992 and gave him a mandate to make changes quickly.

A war of words erupted over last year's budget, with each side accusing the other of being unwilling to communicate. The battle continued this year as the school board approved a $572 million budget request, 11.3 percent higher than last year's.

Mr. Hayden took the fight to the county's legislators and got the Senate to approve his measure, which lawmakers dubbed the "Can we talk?" bill.

As late as Tuesday, Mr. Hayden still planned to lobby for the measure at today's meeting of the county's House delegation in Annapolis.

But on Wednesday, after Mr. Hayden met with school officials to tell them the county could afford to be much more generous with budget requests than in recent years, the skies brightened and the two sides agreed to a truce.

Dr. Berger sent Mr. Hayden a letter pledging "my personal assurance" that requests for information will get a response "within 20 days" and accepting Mr. Hayden's offer "to have monthly breakfast or lunch meetings."

Mr. Hayden responded by asking Del. E. Farrell Maddox, the 6th District Democrat who chairs the county's house delegation, to withdraw the administration bill. He did.

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