Wanted: a turnaround expert

Carroll schools: Next chief must be administrator who can rebuild system's credibility.

July 18, 2000

CAROLL COUNTY Superintendent William H. Hyde actually gave the county school board a chance to redeem itself when he opted for early retirement last week. But that opportunity will be wasted if the board doesn't select a top-flight administrator as his replacement.

The school system's current troubles have little to do with instructional or curricular issues. By the standard measurements -- from MSPAP to graduation rates -- Carroll students continue to perform well relative to students in other Maryland counties.

Instead, the system's problems have sprung from difficulties in managing an accelerated construction program, which consumes millions of taxpayer dollars. As a result, the school board's reputation is fractured, to say the least.

The public no longer trusts the board or the system's top administrators. Mr. Hyde's retirement begins the process of reclaiming that trust, but more must be done. The school board must pick someone with strong administration and public relations skills to succeed Mr. Hyde. And despite the availability of some capable administrators within the system, going outside will lend further credibility to the board's efforts.

If the next superintendent can eliminate large construction cost overruns and disputes, public confidence will likely be restored.

The board also can polish its tarnished image by focusing attention on those areas that have suffered from mismanagement. Rather than just rubber stamp staff recommendations on construction and school sites -- as it has in the past -- the board must show its leadership by identifying and correcting problems before they spin out of control.

Only by choosing the right superintendent can the board can take the first step in regaining the trust it has lost.

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