Extension sought for schools chief hunt Baltimore board needs legislative approval

December 13, 1997|By Liz Bowie and Stephen Henderson | Liz Bowie and Stephen Henderson,SUN STAFF

The search for a Baltimore schools chief will be extended beyond the end of the year to give the school board more time to select from a list that includes at least one Marylander, traditional educators and candidates from the private sector.

"We just want to be absolutely sure we get the right person to do this," said Edward J. Brody, a school board member. "We need more time to do it."

In the meantime, the interim chief executive officer, Robert E. Schiller, is expected to fill in until a permanent replacement is found. Schiller said yesterday that two board members had approached him but that no formal arrangement has been made for him to stay.

"I am not going to leave them in the lurch," Schiller said. "I will change my plans and stay for a little bit longer."

He had planned to drive home to Florida Dec. 23.

The school board, required by a state law passed this year to hire someone by Dec. 31, has written to key legislators asking for a three-month extension to March 31.

Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Senate budget committee, said she sees no reason for the legislature not to extend the deadline.

"I think it makes sense to have the extensions," Hoffman said. "We are going to have to make it legal, but they can proceed on the basis that this is OK."

The law contains no penalty if the board fails to hire a CEO by Dec. 31, so Hoffman, who helped draft the city school reform legislation, said it is likely the legislature will wait until next month, when it convenes, to take formal action to amend the law.

More important, Hoffman said, is that the school board move toward appointing someone and that the selection be made carefully.

Ideally, she said, Schiller would be available to help the new CEO settle in.

The selection process has been kept private, but Brody said the school board wants time to have a public review.

From a list of candidates supplied by the search firm Heidrick & Struggles, the school board has interviewed five to seven candidates and intends to do more interviewing. Brody said there is no list of finalists.

Some potential candidates, including Anne Arundel County HTC Superintendent Carol S. Parham, have made it clear that they are not interested. She said last week that she had been approached to be a candidate and had declined.

"I have made a commitment to Anne Arundel County, so I don't consider myself in the running," she said. The Anne Arundel school board has said it will give Parham a salary increase when it renews her contract in June.

The city school board was particularly interested in considering candidates with business backgrounds because the new structure requires a chief executive officer rather than a superintendent. A chief financial officer and chief academic officer will report to the CEO.

Pub Date: 12/13/97

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