Search for school chief nearing final phase List of finalists among 9 candidates could be ready in 2 weeks, search chairman reports.


The search committee looking for a new Baltimore school superintendent could have a list of finalists within two weeks, according to the committee's chairman.

"It's ambitious -- and we know it's ambitious," says Stelios Spiliadis, the school board vice president who is chairing the search. He says the committee is moving quickly to complete background checks and interviews involving all nine candidates who emerged from a board meeting last week.

Once the finalists are named, they will be interviewed by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, community groups, school unions and the local news media, says Spiliadis.

Although he will not set a deadline for making a final selection, Spiliadis says "we really want to move very quickly on that." Current Superintendent Richard C. Hunter's contract expires July 31, and he has not been offered a new one.

The search for a new school chief, which is entering its sixth month, slowed last month when Schmoke urged board members to broaden the pool of applicants and not to set an arbitrary deadline for a decision.

The pace picked up again last week when David W. Hornbeck, an educational consultant and former state school superintendent, became a candidate at Schmoke's suggestion.

At this point, the search committee is looking at four candidates from within the school system, along with five outsiders.

The insiders are Patsy B. Blackshear, associate superintendent for management services, human resources and labor relations; Leonard D. Wheeler, assistant superintendent of instruction for elementary schools; Chester F. Preyar, assistant superintendent for human resources and labor relations; and Samuel L. Banks, director of instructional support.

Besides Hornbeck, those from outside the system are: Walter G. Amprey, an associate superintendent in Baltimore County; Charles M. Bernardo, former Montgomery County superintendent; Lillian Gonzalez, assistant superintendent for special populations in Washington; and Alfred D. Tutela, former superintendent in Cleveland.

The selection committee last week eliminated two candidates it had been considering: Leonard M. Britton, former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and Jerome Clark, associate superintendent for personnel in Prince George's County.

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