The new superintendent of Baltimore's schools will be chosen from a list of five finalists that includes the former state and Montgomery County superintendents and three top administrators from Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The five were named after a three-hour, closed-door meeting last night of the school board's search committee, and officials said they hoped to make the final selection by the first week of July.
Union and parent representatives said the committee has came up with a strong list of candidates to replace outgoing Superintendent Richard C. Hunter, whose term expires July 31.
Within the next two weeks, the school board plans to conduct its final round of interviews, including sessions with local parent, community, business and religious leaders.
And if all goes according to schedule, one of the five could be named as superintendent within the next few weeks, said Stelios Spiliadis, the school board vice president who chairs the search committee.
"I am hoping that maybe by the end of this month, the first week of July . . . we may have a superintendent," he said last night.
The five finalists named last night are:
* Walter G. Amprey, associate superintendent for the division of staff and community relations in Baltimore County, who had been referred to the board by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.
* Charles M. Bernardo, former Montgomery County and Providence, R.I., superintendent and, since 1980, an educational consultant and real estate professional.
* Patsy B. Blackshear, associate superintendent for management services, human resources and labor relations in Baltimore.
* Lillian Gonzalez, assistant superintendent in Washington, D.C., who is in charge of services to handicapped, bilingual and homeless children and adult education.
* David W. Hornbeck, former Maryland state school superintendent and a nationally known consultant to local governments on school reform. His name was added to the search by Schmoke late last month.
The latest slate caps a turbulent two months of work by the
committee, which announced a "short list" of five in April, only to expand its search once again at the mayor's insistence.
In addition to putting Hornbeck on the list, the board looked at candidates from within the school system.
Three of the five finalists named last night -- Hornbeck, Blackshear and Amprey -- have strong ties to Baltimore and its public schools.
Hornbeck lives in the city, and both of his sons attended city schools.
Blackshear has worked for the Baltimore system since 1989, overseeing administrative support services.
And Amprey, a Baltimore public school graduate, was also a teacher and high school administrator in the city before moving to the Baltimore County system in 1973.
But only one of the five finalists -- Bernardo -- has actually served as superintendent of a local school system, though Hornbeck headed the state's education department for four years.
The committee also come up with a diverse racial mix: two blacks (Blackshear and Amprey), two whites (Hornbeck and Bernardo) and a Hispanic (Gonzalez).
The mayor has downplayed race as a factor in picking the superintendent of a school system whose enrollment is more than 80 percent black.
Reacting to the list of finalists, a spokesman for the mayor last night said only that the mayor "looks forward to meeting with each of the candidates."
But some of those who will get a chance to interview the finalists were upbeat about the latest list.
"I think it's much better than it was the last time," said Irene Dandridge, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union.
Though she would not say which candidate the union would support, Dandridge said the union will be looking for a superintendent committed to giving more authority to individual schools.
"We're also looking for someone who can bring some weight to our appeals to the state . . . for funding," she said. "Obviously Hornbeck would."
But while some may see Hornbeck as a front-runner, she added, "it's anybody's guess at this point" who will be chosen.
Anthony V. Stewart, president of the Baltimore City Council of PTAs, said he was satisfied with the list of finalists, and was particularly pleased with the inclusion of Blackshear, a candidate from within the school system.
He also said, "David Hornbeck was certainly a friend of the city's when he was state superintendent."
Stewart said his group will be looking for a superintendent who is willing to continue the reforms already begun in Baltimore.
"We want some consistency at this point," he said. "We certainly want leadership."
Sheila Kolman, head of the principals' and administrators' union, said, "This is a good list," adding that members of her group have received favorable reports about Amprey and Gonzales in particular.
Hornbeck is also well known throughout the system, she added. "The unknown on the list to us would be Bernardo."
* Walter G. Amprey, associate superintendent in Baltimore County.
* Charles M. Bernardo, former Montgomery County and Providence, R.I., superintendent.
* Patsy B. Blackshear, associate superintendent in Baltimore.
Lillian Gonzalez, assistant superintendent in Washington, D.C.
David W. Hornbeck, former Maryland state school superintendent