Legislator links city aid for schools to reforms Montgomery delegate says changes to bill are needed

February 04, 1997|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

It may take more than just money for their counties' coffers to persuade legislators outside Baltimore to support a five-year, $254 million aid and reform package for city schools.

Del. Nancy K. Kopp, a Montgomery County Democrat, said legislators from her jurisdiction want pending legislation to make it clear that continued funding of the new aid is contingent on city schools making progress in management reforms and in the classroom.

"We are concerned that certain things that are implicit are made explicit," said Kopp, a member of the House Appropriations Committee that is considering the deal. She spoke after the morning session of a one-day conference on the state role in transforming urban school systems.

During the session, sponsored by the Education Commission of the States at the Baltimore Hilton & Towers, Kopp reiterated a point made at the first hearing on the deal last week by Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and his counterparts from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties: that as glaring as Baltimore's needs are, other jurisdictions have needs, too.

State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke told the conference they were optimistic that the deal, which settles three lawsuits over management and funding but must be approved by the legislature, would make a difference in student performance.

In response to an observation that in ceding partial control of schools to the state, he was giving up many powers other mayors are seeking, Schmoke said, "There was a sense of nobody being held accountable."

As an example, he told of becoming so frustrated with city failure to comply with court orders on special education that he called in 40 top administrators and threatened to fire them if improvements weren't made. He later learned that several felt he was "kidding." He said he never made good on his threat because he became involved with other problems.

Pub Date: 2/04/97

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