State gives city school plan OK

December 13, 2006|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,Sun reporter

The state school board unanimously approved yesterday a new master plan for school reform in Baltimore, ending a long-running dispute with the city school system.

The plan, which will be in effect for two years, addresses topics including curriculum choices and strategies for recruiting and retaining qualified teachers.

All 24 school systems in Maryland are required under the state's so-called Bridge to Excellence legislation to develop master plans and update them annually. The legislation provides for an additional $1.3 billion a year in public education spending by 2008 in exchange for documentation of how that money is being spent.

Also yesterday, the state board approved updates to the master plans of Maryland's other 23 school systems.

Last year, Baltimore's master plan update was the only one that the State Department of Education rejected. The school system resubmitted the plan in March, but the state rejected it again, calling it unrealistic. Then, state officials directed the system to start from scratch.

In approving Baltimore's new plan yesterday, board members commented on the "remarkable amount of work done by the city schools in addressing all the questions that the state had of them," said William Reinhard, a state education department spokesman.

Relations between the state and the city school system have improved since July, when Charlene Cooper Boston became interim chief executive officer. Boston was publicly supported by state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

Grasmick, an ally of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has said that she wants to stay in her job under Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley.

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