Montgomery, P.G. counties fill school superintendent posts

June 18, 1999|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

UPPER MARLBORO -- The state's two largest school districts filled their superintendent vacancies yesterday -- one for four years, the other temporarily.

The Prince George's County school board selected Delaware Education Secretary Iris T. Metts to head the school system until 2003.

Montgomery County Superintendent Paul Vance agreed to delay his retirement past June 30 until the search for his successor is completed.

Montgomery fell behind schedule early last month after its first choice for superintendent, Baltimore County Assistant Superintendent Elfreda Massie, withdrew when her personal financial problems became public.

State law requires districts to have a superintendent under contract or to have named an interim one to a one-year agreement by July 1.

Metts, 56, is the first woman and second African-American to head Prince George's schools, with more than 128,000 students the state's largest district.

She will be paid a base salary of $160,000, $30,000 more than Jerome Clark, who is retiring next week.

Metts was selected over Howard County school administrator Jacqueline Brown and the chief financial officer of Baltimore schools, Roger Reese.

At a news conference yesterday that was filled with Prince George's and state officials, Metts said she will "build a culture of change" to turn the troubled system around.

"I believe that with the collaboration and support of the people on the Board of Education we can begin to build that road, that path, to excellence and make this district the top district in Maryland," she said.

Metts said she asked the school board to make her four-year contract "performance-based," because if teachers are being held responsible for meeting standards, so should she.

Metts will assume control of a system with a number of problems. Prince George's is grappling with the effects of 25 years of court-ordered busing meant to achieve racial balance. Many of its schools closest to Washington are overcrowded and crumbling.

More than 40 percent of students receive free or reduced-price meals.

Pub Date: 6/18/99

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