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School board vice president appears likely to be chosen new president


Baltimore County's school board is expected to elect Calvin D. Disney as its new president tonight, replacing Paul S. Cunningham, who recently completed his one-year term.

But the board is not expected to take any action on Superintendent Stuart Berger's rehiring, a school spokesman said. Whether or not to renew Dr. Berger's four-year contract as head of the 100,000-student system will be one of the board's most closely watched decisions under Mr. Disney.

The controversial superintendent's future has been the topic of widespread rumor, innuendo and prediction for months. Mr. Cunningham had said that a decision could be made as early as tonight, but that now appears unlikely.

Although the board officially was to elect its officers at the beginning of its meeting, its decision traditionally is made beforehand in informal discussions and in sessions closed to the public.

Mr. Disney, the board's vice president, would not confirm his selection to head the board, but he has scheduled a news conference this afternoon at school system headquarters at Greenwood. The board president and vice president are elected for one-year terms. If elected, Mr. Disney would be the fourth board president in four years.

An engineer and vice president at Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., he was appointed to the board in 1986 by Gov. Harry Hughes and reappointed in 1992 by Gov. William Donald Schaefer. A resident of Cub Hill, Mr. Disney represents the 8th Legislative District on the board. His term expires in 1997.

Mr. Disney is president of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and has been active in taking the county board's agenda to the state legislature. He also represented the board with Dr. Berger at the County Council's budget hearings this spring.

Generally soft-spoken and reserved in his comments at board meetings, Mr. Disney is considered to be a supporter of Dr. Berger, who began the last year of his contract July 1. But like most board members, he has been noncommittal about the superintendent's rehiring.

Mr. Cunningham said last month that if Dr. Berger's annual evaluation was completed as expected, the board's decision about whether to rehire him could be made by tonight. But late last week, Mr. Cunningham said the evaluation was not finished and "it's getting very difficult because of vacations."

Meanwhile, rumors about Dr. Berger's reappointment, rampant last month, have subsided. The school system's new spokesman, Donald Mohler, said yesterday he did not expect any action on Dr. Berger's contract before fall.

The board also is awaiting the appointment of three members to replace the retiring Rosalie Hellman and Alan Leberknight and Terry P. O'Malley, who recently resigned to take a job in Connecticut.

Hannah Byron, appointments secretary for Gov. Parris N. Glendening, said the board members would be named "before the school year." Board members serve until they are replaced, even though their terms officially have expired.

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