Hartford vote leaves intact EAI support In Md., Schmoke softens stance to cut $10 million from company's contract

November 08, 1995|By JoAnna Daemmrich and Jim Bock | JoAnna Daemmrich and Jim Bock,SUN STAFF

In an extremely close election, Hartford, Conn., voters yesterday maintained a narrow school board majority partial to Education Alternatives Inc., the company managing schools in the Connecticut capital and in Baltimore.

Hartford voters elected two pro-EAI candidates and two anti-EAI candidates to four-year board terms, and narrowly returned board President Thelma Dickerson, also an EAI supporter, to a two-year term. Ms. Dickerson's unofficial victory, by about 200 votes, was not assured until final tabulations from the last of 27 precincts.

The results, if they are made official, will give EAI supporters a 5-4 majority on the board that chose the company a year ago to manage Hartford's public schools.

Ten candidates had competed for five seats on the board in an election widely regarded as crucial to the future of the company.

In Baltimore, meanwhile, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke softened his stance on a proposed $10 million cut in the city's payment to EAI this year, saying there "has to be a little more flexibility than what we had originally proposed."

The mayor did not attend a seven-hour negotiating session yesterday among aides to Superintendent Walter G. Amprey and officials of the company managing nine Baltimore schools.

But, he said, "The whole idea was to figure out how to keep them through this academic year, but find some reductions.

"We're trying to reach a final number with them on how much they will contribute to the deficit reduction plan, and then [Dr.] Amprey will submit a final plan Friday afternoon."

The mayor had participated in a negotiation session with EAI on Friday evening, but neither he nor John Golle, EAI's chief, was present yesterday.

No deal emerged from yesterday's session at North Avenue school headquarters. Dr. Amprey said he took part in only a small part of the meeting.

Ramon Harris, who manages EAI's Baltimore operation, said negotiators had "a good dialogue." He offered no details and said he expected the talks to continue.

Henry Raymond, the school system's chief financial officer, led the city team. No representative from the mayor's office participated, Dr. Amprey said.

The superintendent would say only that the meeting was in two parts: exploration of new ideas, and renegotiation of the $44 million contract.

The city has demanded that EAI accept $10 million less this school year for managing the nine schools and consulting at three others.

Asked about EAI's offer to come up with spending reductions for the entire school system, Mr. Schmoke said Mr. Raymond planned to respond and negotiate a final number.

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