Schmoke modifies teacher input plan He'll make union chief nonvoting board member

March 22, 1996|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer John Rivera contributed to this article.

In an attempt to sidestep potential legal hurdles, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke yesterday modified his provocative proposal to give teachers a greater say in school policy, saying he would designate the head of the teachers union to a nonvoting seat on the school board.

Giving Baltimore Teachers Union President Irene B. Dandridge ex-officio rather than full voting status could be done by a resolution of the board and would avoid legal issues raised last week after he proposed the unusual idea, the mayor said.

"We won't have to pass new laws, we won't have to amend the charter," Mr. Schmoke said at his weekly news conference. "We can evaluate it over the next year or so, and, if it's not working, we can simply move on," he added.

Among the questions raised last week was whether a city residency requirement would preclude Ms. Dandridge, who lives Howard County, from being a full member of the board.

Also questioned was whether a school board post would pose a conflict of interest for Ms. Dandridge.

Even with her nonvoting status, the mayor said, Ms. Dandridge would "not participate in discussions of salary and benefits." But she would be "allowed to meet with the rest of the school board, make comments and advise on policy matters," he said.

"Right now policies are announced; she reacts to them. There is no ongoing collaboration," the mayor said.

Ms. Dandridge said she thought the change was a good idea.

"I think it's very workable," she said. "In fact, it is probably much better if I don't vote. Then I avoid conflicts of interest and those kinds of things.

"What remains is the only reason I considered it at all," Ms. Dandridge said. "Even if I were to vote, I would only be one vote. So I'm not so much interested in voting as I am in bringing the teachers' view to issues."

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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