Cousin wants to stay in job

Superintendent had considered retiring but will seek new contract

December 19, 2007|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,Sun reporter

Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin intends to remain as head of Howard County's school system and will ask the Board of Education to renew his contract, he said yesterday.

"I would really like to stay," Cousin said.

He has been inundated with e-mail asking him to stay as superintendent, he said, after an article in The Sun last week revealed that he was contemplating retirement.

"It is a big decision to commit yourself to an additional four years," Cousin said.

The superintendent's contract does not expire for more than six months, but state regulations require him to inform the Howard County Board of Education by the end of January whether he wants to continue as superintendent. The board is then required to decide by the end of February whether to renew his contract.

Cousin, 62, has been mulling his future for weeks.

He pointed to a desire to eliminate the student achievement gap, particularly among minority students, as one of the main reasons for seeking a four-year contract. But other endeavors, including the possibility of teaching in the public schools or becoming a librarian, also were appealing, he said.

"There is life after being a superintendent, or so I've been told," he said as recently as last week.

The school board lured Cousin out of retirement in 2004.

At that time, the school system was dealing with grade-changing scandals at two schools, a false rape allegation at another and a messy split between Superintendent John R. O'Rourke and the school board.

Cousin -- who retired as deputy superintendent in 2003 after serving in the Howard system for 16 years - was viewed by many as a calming presence in a time of strife.

Mamie J. Perkins, Cousin's chief of staff, said she is pleased with his decision.

"As staff, we are delighted to know that he is interested in staying," she said. "It allows for consistency, and I really think it is good for the students of Howard County, as well."

State regulations preclude the Board of Education as a whole from discussing Cousin's future until after Feb. 1, board member Diane Mikulis said.

"I cannot speak for the board because we have not discussed it," she said of Cousin's decision.

Speaking personally, she said, "We've been very pleased with Sydney, and I think that he has been very, very good for the school system."

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