Superintendent search continues City schools' CEO: No surprise that an ambitious but unrealistic goal won't be met.

December 22, 1997

IT WAS POINTED out when Baltimore's new school board took office in June that it faced a daunting task that included 15 days to appoint an interim school superintendent, a month to prepare for expiration of five union contracts, a summer to draft an initial budget and six months to find and hire a permanent chief executive officer.

The unrealistic deadlines are in the state law that ended a court battle by granting city schools additional state funds in exchange for sweeping management changes. The writers of the legislation meant well; they want to see improvements as soon as possible. But much of what is wrong with Baltimore schools is the result of having the wrong people in charge. If it takes more time to get the right people, so be it.

Two days before it was to appoint an interim superintendent as a bridge to a new era, the board asked for more time to search. The delayed appointment of Robert E. Schiller on June 26 appears to have been worth the wait. He has been a good interim superintendent, and says he will remain at that post if the board is allowed an extension past Dec. 31 to continue searching for a permanent CEO. The law prohibits Dr. Schiller from being a candidate.

The board took a major step in the school-reform process in October when it named Roger Reese Jr., comptroller for Atlanta public schools, as the new chief financial officer for Baltimore schools. He will start that job in January. A chief academic officer is also to be named. They will work hand-in-hand with the new CEO to turn city schools around. The legislature shouldn't hesitate to grant Baltimore's school board some additional time to make sure it gets the best candidates possible.

Pub Date: 12/22/97

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