Board loath to reveal names

Doing so may impede superintendent search in Balto. Co., they say

`Not telling them to do this'

January 20, 2000|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's school board will likely keep secret the names of candidates for superintendent, though top elected officials say parents and teachers should be allowed to question job finalists.

"When it gets down to one or two candidates, I think it would be wise to open [the process] up, because it is such a public position," County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said yesterday.

Still, the county's top official isn't ready to force his views on the school board. "I am not telling them to do this," Ruppersberger said.

School board members say they are sticking with their original plan to replace Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione, who retires in June.

"I truly believe that our process is the right process and the one that will give us the best chance to get the best, most qualified superintendent for the school system," said board member Sanford V. Teplitzky.

At this late stage in the process -- board members expect to announce the name of the next superintendent before April -- a decision to release finalists' names might cause some candidates to drop out, said school board member John A. Hayden.

"We are well into the search, and we've already explained the process to a bushel basket of folks," Hayden said. School officials said about 20 people have expressed interest in the job.

"We can't go back and say we changed the rules," Hayden said. "That would be more than awkward."

Also, some candidates might get the wrong impression about the school system if the school board changes the selection process based on pressure from a political body such as the County Council, Teplitzky said.

"What kind of message does that send?" he said. "Some people might think the school system is controlled by the County Council."

Board President Donald L. Arnold, who has acted as spokesman during the search, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

At a meeting Tuesday, the council adopted a resolution urging the school board "to solicit the input of the public in all phases of its search." Although the council has little control over the school board or school system, it must approve the schools' annual operating and capital budgets.

In adopting the resolution, council members noted Howard County's superintendent search as an example of a more open process.

Parents there peppered finalist John R. O'Rourke of the Pittsford Central School District near Rochester, N.Y., with questions during an open forum Tuesday. The other finalist, David E. Sawyer, superintendent of the Brevard County, Fla., schools, is scheduled to visit the county today and tomorrow.

Baltimore County residents will not be allowed to meet or question job finalists.

Early in the search process, small groups of Baltimore County parents, teachers and administrators met with consultants from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates of Illinois to map out a candidate profile -- a first for the county. In years past, community groups and teachers submitted their thoughts in writing but were not invited to meet with consultants.

School board members hoped the meetings with consultants this time would please parents and teachers, and they did, at first. But recently, those groups have asked for more input and access -- especially in light of Howard County's open search.

"Parents and teachers should be involved at every level of the search process," said Linda Olszewski, Baltimore County PTA Council president. "The public should be involved in public education."

Sun staff writer David Nitkin contributed to this article.

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