Split board seeks unity

`Miniretreat' to focus on issues that divide county school officials

Member calls for changes

July 26, 1999|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN STAFF

If ever there was a time for reflection on the Carroll County school board, this may be it.

Clearly divided over how to set up a performance audit of the system, how to establish goals and whether the board needs to renew its focus on student achievement, members are meeting in seclusion this afternoon, presumably to discuss prickly issues like these that stand in the way of unity.

State law permits a school board to hold a retreat out of the public eye, but members may not make any official decisions or hold votes.

While the "miniretreat" will take the board no farther than the Board of Education building, meeting privately could feel like being a world away from the pressures of their public sessions.

At a regular meeting July 14, relationships were visibly strained, particularly when member Susan Krebs began lobbying to be appointed to the team that will decide how a performance audit -- which was requested by the county commissioners and has soured the relationship between county government and the school system -- will be carried out.

Board member C. Scott Stone said at the meeting that it would be inappropriate for a board member to serve. The issue was dropped, and no decision was made.

Krebs said she wants to discuss the audit today as well as differences over how the board should deal with concerns brought to them by constituents.

Krebs said she is hearing a torrent of complaints in the community that the school system is not adequately staffing schools with teachers, not fully explaining lawsuits involving outside parties, and not addressing concerns raised by residents at board meetings.

Krebs said she fears her colleagues are not fully aware of the discontent.

"They don't seem to be getting the concerns I am regarding the administration," Krebs said.

Better information

Board President Gary W. Bauer was unwilling to discuss the agenda for today's meeting, which will also be attended by Superintendent William H. Hyde.

Bauer did say the board would likely discuss how it can better inform the community of its activities. Residents who do not attend meetings could be well served, for example, if information on board actions were included in school newsletters, Bauer said.

Krebs, often seen as the maverick on the board, called on July 14 for a retreat to get members more involved in setting goals for the district. Goal-setting has traditionally been done by Hyde and other administrators, who generate a goals list that is reviewed by board members.

She has also been calling for the board to re-evaluate its role and to consider becoming more active in issues relating to student achievement. An item directly related to achievement has not been on the board agenda for months, Krebs said.

Privacy preferred

Krebs requested that Carl Smith, executive director of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, facilitate today's retreat and educate the board as to what its role should be. She has complained that the board is not active enough and too often reacts to -- or simply approves -- requests and other actions by the administration.

According to Bauer, Smith was asked not to attend the miniretreat because some board members preferred a more private meeting first, before scheduling a meeting with Smith at a later time.

Pub Date: 7/26/99

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