Contract with EAI ends today School officials say transition will be smooth

March 04, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's three-and-a-half-year experiment in school privatization ends today, as the city terminates its contract with Education Alternatives Inc., and the Minneapolis-based school management firm moves out of a dozen city schools.

School system officials and EAI managers say the move will go so smoothly that almost no one will notice the change in management.

"We're working to ensure a minimum of disruption to any student," said Ramon Harris, EAI's manager in Baltimore.

"If we've done our job right, hopefully Monday will come and go and nobody will know the difference," said city schools Superintendent Walter G. Amprey. The schools have negotiated a separate agreement with EAI to keep the basics of the curriculum, he said.

"Schools will keep their teaching interns if they want to stay. We'll finish out the year with the noninstructional personnel," such as custodians, office assistants and cafeteria workers, he said.

The schools also will keep the 1,700 computers as well as phones, copiers and FAX machines that EAI provided. "We have a separate agreement with EAI to continue certain functions through June 30," said Henry Raymond, the school system's chief financial officer.

He said he did not know how much money the schools would pay EAI under the new agreement because the contract was incomplete Friday.

Since 1992, EAI managed eight elementary schools and a middle school. Later, the company began providing support services to three others, known as consulting schools.

The city decided to terminate its five-year contract with EAI in December when the firm appeared unwilling to accept $7 million in cuts this school year. The school system expects to save about $3 million gross this year by terminating the contract, though after the extended leases and contracts, the savings will be closer to $1.25 million, Mr. Raymond said.

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