Hyde gets a vote of confidence for his job

Board reaffirms faith in superintendent amid calls for ouster

July 13, 2000|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

The county Board of Education reaffirmed its commitment yesterday to honor Superintendent William H. Hyde's four-year contract despite calls for his resignation from some residents and school board candidates.

The 4-1 vote - board member Susan W. Krebs dissented - occurred a week after the board first discussed an internal investigation into bungled school construction projects that have cost the school system millions of dollars in overruns, lawsuit settlements and legal fees.

In calling for the vote, board member Gary W. Bauer said he was concerned about employees of the school system.

"Morale is down. People are unsure what will happen," he said, explaining why he wanted to vote yesterday.

But Krebs asked her colleagues to hold off until the board had a chance to discuss the matter privately.

"I think it's an appropriate thing to do," she said of Bauer's call for a vote. "But we've had no personnel conversation and no performance evaluation, which was supposed to have been done by the end of July. I think we should have a chance to share our concerns before taking a position."

But others cut her off.

"I have the utmost confidence in Mr. Hyde's leadership and I can vote on that today," said board member Ann M. Ballard.

Since the March release of a report that documented "consistent failures" in the construction department, residents, PTA members and school board candidates have implored the board to discuss problems documented by investigators - chief among them, the actions of top administrators and other school personnel.

The school board's action yesterday occurred 10 days after board candidate Lisa Breslin suggested the board take a vote of confidence in the superintendent.

Board President C. Scott Stone said at the time that state law prohibits them from discussing personnel issues - including their confidence in the schools chief - in public.

He made no mention of that argument as he voted yesterday.

A government accountability group with Carroll County roots has collected 3,800 signatures - less than half of its goal of 10,000 - on petitions demanding the removal of Hyde, Assistant Superintendent Vernon F. Smith Jr., Stone and Bauer.

Marcel J. van Rossum, a South Carroll resident who led the petition drive, is scheduled to present the results to the county commissioners at 9 a.m. today.

After yesterday's vote, the board unanimously elected to go into closed session to discuss the "appointees, employees or officials over whom it has jurisdiction," specifically relating to the internal investigation.

Less than an hour after the two-hour closed session, Stone called a school board meeting for 7 p.m. today but would not say why. Krebs and Bauer said Stone would not say why the meeting was being called.

"Some things have come up that the board needs to address," Stone said, "and it seemed appropriate as board president to address it as quickly as possible."

In other business yesterday, the board approved pay scales for administrative, technical and executive staff and the superintendent's salary for fiscal 2001, which began July 1.

Hyde will earn $118,965 plus an annual $6,400 car allowance.

Hyde, who has two years left on his contract, announced yesterday he will donate the 2 percent difference between his pay raise and the pay raise received by all nonteachers - about $2,380 - to the school system to be split between multicultural education and minority recruitment programs.

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