BRIAN LOCKARD has a life that many of his contemporaries dream of -- deep hometown roots, a stable single employer in his career, satisfaction in bettering the community. And, yes, retirement at an early age and the pension to enjoy it.
Mr. Lockard, 54, has achieved these goals, as he steps down in June after four years as Carroll County schools superintendent, following three decades of earlier service in the county system.
He did not seek a new contract, he has no job plans. The county's continuing struggle over finances and educational needs, mirrored in fast-growing communities throughout the region, must have been a factor. But he had considered retirement in 1994, before he was tapped to succeed R. Edward Shilling for the county's top school job.
Most important to the community are the things that have happened under Mr. Lockard's leadership: higher student scores on a variety of statewide tests and other rankings; prominence as a cost-efficient, quality system. He oversaw a soaring increase in enrollment and navigated a sizable increase in the budget.
Money was the major controversy of his tenure. His salary, $123,000, was near the highest for Maryland school superintendents. Last year, he tried to assuage grumbling about his raise, by donating it to educational programs.
His budget proposal for fiscal year 1999 has raised eyebrows because it exceeds a cap set by the county commissioners. Yet under his guidance, these same commissioners approved the most ambitious school construction program in county history, funded by a piggyback income tax hike and long-term bond borrowing.
Education is a cooperative continuum. No one person can claim full credit for achievements developed over years. Mr. Lockard, whose work in previous positions helped develop the Carroll school system, would be the first to agree. But his leadership and longtime dedication have helped to make a huge difference.
With 27,000 students, three dozen schools and an operating budget of more than $150 million, Carroll schools face continued growth in the 21st century. More money, more schools, more pupils are a certainty. That's a big challenge for Mr. Lockard's successor. The school must begin the search for that successor with alacrity.
Pub Date: 1/20/98