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Mayor says city should have confidence in Thornton

Baltimore City Schools CEO Gregory Thornton stands behind Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake during a press conference outside City Hall announcing that the Youth Works city-business partnership has 8,000 summer jobs for Baltimore City youth.
Baltimore City Schools CEO Gregory Thornton stands behind Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake during a press conference outside City Hall announcing that the Youth Works city-business partnership has 8,000 summer jobs for Baltimore City youth.(Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore Sun published a piece Sunday looking back at city schools CEO Gregory Thornton's first year, which was described by supporters and critics as tumultuous.

Many agreed that Thornton faces enormous challenges, but disagreed on whether he's the one to guide the district through them.

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Some say that Thornton lacks vision, his plans lack transparency, and his initiatives lack substance.

Others say Thornton has been mired in issues that he inherited -- such as a $72 million structural deficit in the budget -- and therefore stifled in his ability to make any real movement at the rate the city is used to.

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Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who endorsed the school board's decision to hire Thornton, said in a statement last week that she believes Thornton's background "should give all of us confidence in what lies ahead for our schools."

Rawlings-Blake penned an op-ed in The Sun in 2013 as the board conducted its search for a new superintendent. In it she wrote the school system needed "a visionary who sees our schools as community partners able to transform entire neighborhoods."

In her statement on Thornton's first year, Rawlings-Blake said:

"In his first year in Baltimore, Dr. Thornton has been forced to address a number of major challenges facing our school system, particularly in the areas of the budget and the need to realign the central office to prioritize resources for classrooms and children.

"Having made hard choices to stabilize the system's finances, I'm looking forward to him having an opportunity to put a greater imprint on classrooms and learning as we work together to provide each and every child in our City with a world-class education."

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricaLG

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