Md. education board OKs reform plans for six city schools Proposals previously were deemed inadequate

June 26, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Averting the possible state takeover of city schools, the Maryland State Board of Education yesterday approved revised improvement plans for six schools whose proposals previously had been judged inadequate.

In a somewhat contentious board meeting during which city school officials criticized the state's school reform process and implied condescending treatment, the board and State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said city schools could not count on additional money for the planned improvements.

"I think all of us can breathe a sigh of relief today that the schools will be moving with their own plans," said board member Edmonia T. Yates of Baltimore. "The school system deserves accolades."

Last month, the board told the six schools that their transition plans for reform were unacceptable and that the schools would be taken over by the state if the plans weren't revised. During the past three years, 42 schools -- 40 in the city -- have failed to meet even minimum state standards and had to present improvement plans to the board. These six were the first to submit unacceptable plans.

The transition plans, which will be replaced by long-range plans in February, for Walbrook High and Beechfield Elementary schools were fully approved. Those for Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary and Guilford elementary and middle school were conditionally approved, and must be resubmitted next month for final approval. The plans for Rosemont and Robert W. Coleman elementaries were approved on the condition that school officials continue working with state department officials.

Although Baltimore Superintendent Walter G. Amprey repeatedly thanked the board for the opportunity to revise the plans and for accepting the revisions, he said the experience had taught city school officials that the state process was flawed.

In a three-page statement read by associate superintendent Mary R. Nicholsonne, the schools demanded a revision of state "procedures for dealing with information from Baltimore City" and a review by the board.

The schools blasted the state department for delaying written comments on the faulty plans, for failing to be specific and timely in its allegations, and for inappropriate terminology.

Board president Christopher Cross responded by saying he disagreed with some of the comments, but that the board would consider the points raised once they had seen them in writing.

Grasmick said she could not identify any situation in which her staff had been demeaning or sarcastic to city officials, "but I will pursue each of these points. We have the benefit of seeing not only how one system responds to the process but of how others respond and there has been a difference in the responses."

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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