School board finalizes superintendent contract

The Board of Education has finalized its contract with Howard County's next superintendent, board Chairwoman Sandra French announced Thursday.

French said the board had completed negotiations with Renee Foose, currently deputy superintendent of Baltimore County schools, and a formal vote on Foose's appointment and the contract would be taken Thursday, April 26 at 4 p.m.

"It's a relief that those legal aspects of the selection are over, and now we can focus on the next steps of the transition, getting our goals set for next year," French said. "We're very pleased and happy we're moving forward."

Details of the four-year contract were not released, but would be made public at the April 26 meeting, French said. The board will host a reception for Foose in the board room of the Department of Education in Ellicott City prior to the meeting, at 3:15 p.m.

In an interview Thursday, Foose said the first order of business, even before her contract takes effect July 1, would be to sit down with the board to develop a 90-day plan, mapping out strategic initiatives and ensuring a smooth transition.

"Just from interaction with the community, there seems to be some themes that have emerged that I think the school system needs to focus on," Foose said. "Themes like strategic direction and alignment, for instance, with the new teacher-principal assessments. Communication and collaboration also are important — making sure we're communicating and collaborating with all stakeholders, making sure all voices are heard."

She added: "There's a strong sense that there's a desire to move our students that are flying at high altitudes to an even higher altitude, so what do we want to put in place to make sure we're doing that?"

French said possible retreat dates for Foose and the board would be proposed in the coming weeks to map out such plans.

One of the most pressing issues facing the school system right now, Foose said, is the economy.

"We have to find out where there are redundancies," Foose said. "It's not a matter of doing more with less, but doing more with a better approach to what we're doing. Let's find ways to re-prioritize."

Foose will replace Sydney Cousin, who is retiring June 30 after 12 years at the helm of Howard schools.

She was offered, and accepted, the position of Howard superintendent March 27, a day after she was announced as one of two finalists for the job. The second finalist, S. Dallas Dance, currently chief middle school officer of the Houston Independent School District in Texas, was formally appointed as Baltimore County's next superintendent April 10. Foose was also a finalist for that position.

Foose, 45, has been deputy superintendent in Baltimore County for a year; prior to that, she served as director of school performance, director of shared accountability and associate superintendent in Montgomery County. Foose has spent the last 15 years in Maryland public schools.

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