Baltimore is told to reform 35 schools or turn them over Schmoke negotiating with state officials over final list

January 24, 1996|By JoAnna Daemmrich and John Rivera | JoAnna Daemmrich and John Rivera,SUN STAFF

Maryland officials have told Baltimore to overhaul 35 low-achieving schools -- close to a fifth of the school system -- or lose control of them.

"It's not a final list," Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday, confirming that Baltimore is negotiating to reduce the number of poor-quality schools to be added to the state's school-reform program.

State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick is scheduled Friday to identify in public the Maryland public schools with poor and declining test scores and attendance.

Baltimore's school system already is reorganizing five schools, with state supervision.

With this year's additions, nearly a fifth of the school system, primarily elementary schools, would be ordered to restructure through this program.

A total of 37 schools statewide are on the list. Besides Baltimore's 35, there is one in Anne Arundel County and one in Somerset County.

Maryland's school reform order, made every year by Feb. 1, comes just days before Superintendent Walter G. Amprey and other city and state officials are to meet with lawmakers in Annapolis to discuss Baltimore's school management troubles.

joint session of the legislature's budget committees, the meeting will influence whether Baltimore recovers $5.9 million withheld from its state school aid this academic year.

To win back the money, legislators decided last spring, Baltimore would be required to make substantial progress at improving its school management.

State and city officials have been building arsenals of information to present to legislators, who expect Dr. Grasmick to make a recommendation affecting the funding.

Yesterday, Mr. Schmoke said he was not surprised at the number of schools that qualified for reorganization.

"In Dr. Amprey's own evaluation process, he had come up with a number of schools that he would put on 'alert,' " Mr. Schmoke said. "So I knew we had a large number of schools in that situation."

School board members were to be told of the state's order at a board committee meeting last night.

Some hinted they would resist it, as they did last year when Maryland's list of city schools requiring shake-ups grew to five.

In the first year of the state program, Patterson and Douglass high schools were named. Last year, Arnett J. Brown and Calverton middle schools and Furman Templeton elementary were added to the list.

Board members are considering the tactic of defying the order unless Maryland agrees to pay for the school restructuring.

nTC Last year, they engaged in a protracted battle with the state school board over the mandated reforms at the three schools.

After successfully negotiating with the state to reduce the number of designated schools from nine to three, Baltimore school officials refused to comply with the state's mandates.

Ignoring the state's timetable for the reform process -- which was to begin with state fact-finders visiting the three schools -- they demanded a halt to the reform program. But after a week, school officials' stance had shifted. They would submit a plan by the state's first major deadline, they said -- if the state would find financial aid for the schools designated for reforms.

The dispute ended when Gov. Parris N. Glendening allocated $1.6 million to help revive the five lagging schools.

Reform in '96

Schools mandated for reform in 1996:

Elementary schools

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Lafayette

Holabird

Gilmor

Montebello

Harriet Tubman

William Paca

Pimlico

Brehms Lane

Edgecombe Circle

Guilford

Highlandtown

Abbottston

Northwood

Van Bokkelen -- Anne Arundel

Morrell Park

Yorkwood

Rosemont

Arundel

Eutaw Marshburn

Charles Carroll Barrister

Ashburton

General Wolfe

Beechfield

Edgewood

Lyndhurst

Robert W. Coleman

Middle schools

William Lemmel

Diggs-Johnson

Hamilton

Chinquapin

Woodson -- Somerset County

High schools

Lake Clifton/Eastern

Walbrook

Northwestern

Northern

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