Don't Delay Superintendent Search

April 20, 1994

Rather than delay the selection of a new superintendent, the Carroll County Board of Education should move expeditiously to find a successor for retiring superintendent R. Edward Shilling. The board should begin immediately the process of locating the best possible person to fill the system's top managerial position. Its target should be to have a new superintendent in place during the 1994-95 school year.

Heeding the wishes of the small group of activists who want the selection delayed until after the fall school board election would not be in the best interest of the system. The goal of the process should be only this: To pick someone who will continue to run a system that produces admirable educational results with one of Maryland's lowest per pupil expenditures.

Even though it is an election year, the terms of the current board don't expire until December. This is not a lame duck board that is hurrying to impose its will on the system before it disappears. Members of this board were elected to carry out certain duties, among them the filling of a vacant superintendency. Delaying that job would be shirking its legal obligation. With about eight months to complete its screening and selection process, the school board has more than sufficient time to conduct a thorough search.

Proponents of the delay are pushing their own political agenda. This group, which has opposed Outcomes-Based Education in the past, is hoping to elect two new members, possibly tipping the board's ideological balance and securing a superintendent more aligned with its views.

This vocal group would make opposition to the outcomes-based curriculum the litmus test for a new superintendent. Running a multi-million dollar system with more than 2,000 employees and 24,000 students, however, takes a skilled educator and manager, not just an ideologically correct one.

It is also presumptuous for this group to believe that important decision-making should grind to a halt. Just because candidates have announced for office doesn't mean they will be elected or that their views will prevail if elected. Moreover, the Carroll school system has succeeded where some others have not in recent years because it has maintained its focus on the education of children -- not on political manipulations behind the scenes.

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