Hettleman back on city schools beat Ex-state official is now quietly assisting Amprey

April 05, 1996|By Jean Thompson | Jean Thompson,SUN STAFF

Reprising a role he played for a past schools superintendent, veteran civic activist Kalman "Buzzy" Hettleman has joined the management ranks at Baltimore school headquarters.

In his behind-the-scenes volunteer role, the former state and city official is now "special assistant and consultant" to Superintendent Walter G. Amprey.

On paper, his job is to "assist" the school chief in his dealings with the Maryland Department of Education. The former state secretary of human resources has been described by some in the school community as Dr. Amprey's jack-of-all-management: coach, adviser and political trouble-shooter.

Mr. Hettleman's role is more than that of messenger, do-gooder or go-between: Some at school headquarters have suggested he is "shadow chief of staff," a management handyman who is adept at cutting through red tape and seeing projects through.

For his part, Mr. Hettleman prefers a place in the shadows.

"I believe very strongly in Dr. Amprey's leadership, and I think that everybody needs to pitch in and support the school system," he said yesterday. "I really think my role is to assist," he said, adding he has "a passion for anonymity."

Mr. Hettleman recently has accompanied Dr. Amprey to a number of business meetings, leaving in his wake speculation about his influence.

"He's helping me out," said Dr. Amprey, describing his new aide as an adept communicator who knows his way around state and city agencies and can maneuver around the political minefields.

Mr. Hettleman is a former school board member and education (( adviser to mayors Kurt L. Schmoke and Thomas D'Alesandro III. As a consultant to the late superintendent Alice G. Pinderhughes, he helped clear the way in Baltimore schools for Success For All, a primary school program developed by Johns Hopkins University researchers and now used nationwide. He also has been executive director of Project Raise, a mentoring program for Baltimore students.

His new assignment comes at a time when city and state leaders have identified management improvements as keys to any possible settlement of a major education lawsuit.

The suit, filed by the city last fall and scheduled to go to trial in November, seeks to wrest from Maryland a significant increase in school aid. In settlement discussions, both sides seek improved relations, and the operative word of late has been "partnership."

Mr. Hettleman's activity comes at a time when Dr. Amprey has been conspicuously quiet in public on a number of pressing school issues, sometimes at his lawyer's urging because of his connection to pending litigation.

Different officials describe Mr. Hettleman's role in different ways.

Jacquelyn Hardy, interim director of public relations for the schools, said he is Dr. Amprey's "liaison" with lawyers involved in school litigation and with the city school board

Lynnette Young, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's chief of staff, termed Mr. Hettleman's role that of a broker.

Pub Date: 4/05/96

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