City schools chief conducting search for aide with academic background Woman holding post must reapply for job

August 06, 1998|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's new school chief executive, Robert Booker, is conducting a national search for a new academic leader to be his second-in-command.

Since his appointment in May, Booker and school board members have suggested that they might hire someone with a strong academic background to complement Booker's experience in financial management.

Booker had been a chief financial officer in San Diego County, Calif., and a financial manager of the Los Angeles school system, but before he moved to Baltimore last month, he had never been responsible for academic programs.

He emphasized that he will expand the duties of the academic officer, a post now held by Searetha Smith. Whoever assumes the new post, he said, would control "the day-to-day operations of the schools and would be in charge of supervising curriculum and instruction. This person would be in charge of teaching and learning."

The nine assistant superintendents who oversee the system's 183 schools and report to Booker will report to the academic officer, he said.

The search leaves Smith, hired away from the Richmond, Va., schools six months ago to be the chief academic officer, in the position of having to reapply for the job. Smith's contract expired last month, and she was not given a permanent post, but her contract was extended.

When asked if he will consider Smith for the new job, Booker said, "I assume she will apply." Booker would not comment on whether he might find another position in the school system for Smith, if she is not given the expanded position of academic officer.

Sources in the school system said it is unlikely Smith will get the new job.

Smith said yesterday she had not made up her mind whether she wanted the job and has not had a lengthy discussion with Booker about it.

"I would need to see what we are planning and talk about it with Dr. Booker for information and clarification," she said.

In May, Booker said he was considering New York City's Barbara Byrd-Bennett for a high-level job in his administration. Byrd-Bennett, who oversaw a reform effort in a district of troubled schools in New York, was a finalist for the chief executive officer job that Booker got. Byrd-Bennett, who has been given a new job within the New York system, did not return a phone call yesterday inquiring whether she intended to apply.

The school system has placed an advertisement in Education Week, and the personnel office will contact people around the country who might be interested in the job, which is the equivalent of deputy superintendent. The deadline for applications is Aug. 24.

Pub Date: 8/06/98

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