New plan splits Patterson into 'academies'

June 29, 1994|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Sun Staff Writer

A week after Baltimore Superintendent Walter G. Amprey abandoned a plan to let a Maine boarding school run troubled Patterson High, the city is preparing to divide the school into separate academic and career-preparation programs.

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and Dr. Amprey said yesterday that they are nearing agreement on an improvement plan aimed at averting a state takeover of the East Baltimore school.

The state school board is expected to decide on the city's new plan by July 15, acting on Dr. Grasmick's recommendations. If the plan is rejected, the state could move ahead with direct intervention at Patterson, devising a plan in which it could rewrite the curriculum and decide staffing changes.

Dr. Grasmick said the 1,800-student school should be divided into four or five "academies," each focusing on an area such as humanities, fine arts, career preparation and community service.

Her guidelines to Dr. Amprey and other city officials crafting the improvement plan also stipulate that:

* The city should proceed with a plan to remove all 130 staff members at Patterson, then require them to compete for their jobs with applicants from inside and outside the district. Patterson staffers who were not retained would be offered jobs elsewhere in the system.

* The school's principal, Leon W. Tillett Jr., and other administrators should be replaced. Mr. Tillett is going on a sabbatical, Dr. Amprey said.

* Dr. Amprey is to appoint a direct liaison between himself and the school .

In setting the guidelines, Dr. Grasmick urged city officials to work closely with teachers, parents, businesses and community representatives. "We think that keeping the lines of communication open is essential to the success of this plan," she said, calling for a "strong cooperative effort."

Dr. Amprey had been criticized by scores of teachers and parents who said they had been excluded as the city moved ahead with plans to let Hyde School of Bath, Maine, run Patterson for five years.

Amid that opposition, Dr. Amprey said last week that he had abandoned plans to turn over Patterson to Hyde, which stresses character-building, discipline and parental involvement.

The fate of Patterson remains with Dr. Grasmick and the state school board. Patterson, along with Douglass High in West Baltimore, became the first targets this year of a new measure allowing state intervention in failing schools. No other Maryland schools will be targeted this year.

Dr. Amprey pledged yesterday to work more closely with teachers and parents in putting the new plan into effect.

He also said he would consider incorporating elements of a plan being put together by teachers, parents and the Baltimore Teachers Union.

"We want to be sensitive to what the community thinks will work over there. . . . They spend all their time there working with kids and doing things in schools, so we want to at least consider that and see how that ties in with what we have planned and what's being offered from the state," he said.

He said he welcomed the guidelines from Dr. Grasmick, adding, "We've got to help youngsters, and I don't care where the idea comes from."

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