Succeeding success New principal: Romanstein will be watched closely for changes at city arts school.

April 07, 1996

THE LONG SEARCH is over. Come June, Stanley E. Romanstein will succeed retiring David Simon as the principal of the Baltimore School for the Arts. He will be only the second director in the institution's 16-year history.

When Mr. Romanstein was introduced to the School for the Arts community, the 40-year-old musicologist and conductor was the object of considerable curiosity. His scholarly expertise, after all, is in Italian Renaissance vocal music and the Baroque sonata, which are not areas readily connected with a multi-faceted urban arts high school. His administrative experience consists mostly of six years as chairman of the music department at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.

In his Baltimore introductions, Mr. Romanstein made all the right moves. He pronounced the School for the Arts to be in fine shape and offered no far-reaching blueprint for change. About the only specific commitments he made concerned increased use of technology in classrooms -- to enable more students to take advantage of world-class training originating in other cities -- and his desire to give more students international exposure.

Mr. Romanstein was prudent in not making any hasty, sweeping declarations. The School for the Arts has been such a success under Mr. Simon that any changes in direction are likely to be greeted with suspicion. Yet it is natural that Mr. Romanstein, once he is in charge, will want to leave his mark on the school.

The School for the Arts is an unusual Baltimore institution. It is part of the city's public school system but has an independent board of overseers. This kind of autonomy has served it well, removing the arts school from the bureaucratic turbulence that has often characterized the rest of the school system.

Strong support from faculty, fund-raisers and fans has enabled the School for the Arts to thrive in an atmosphere of uncompromising artistic standards and academic excellence. Not only does the downtown institution have the lowest drop-out rate of any city school but 97 percent of the members of the class of 1995 went on to college or professional careers.

We welcome Mr. Romanstein to Baltimore and a school where talent and ambition are overwhelming and enthusiasm is addictive.

Pub Date: 04/07/96

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