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Amprey has high profile in job market heading into school board evaluation


If the school superintendent wanted to remind Baltimore that he is marketable, he has succeeded.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has declared that he wants Walter G. Amprey to remain Baltimore's schools chief.

But yesterday morning, Dr. Amprey's name remained on the list of candidates for schools chancellor in New York.

The ball apparently is in Dr. Amprey's court. Some here and in New York are waiting for him to declare his intentions.

Dr. Amprey was ill yesterday and not available to comment, said schools spokesman Nat Harrington.

Earlier, however, Dr. Amprey said that, while he was flattered by New York's interest in him, he remained committed to his job.

His annual evaluation, normally completed by the school board during the summer, is coming up. A private meeting of the school board has been called at the end of this month to review his performance, board members said this week.

"It doesn't surprise me that other districts are interested in him," Phillip H. Farfel, school board president, said yesterday. "We want to do everything we can to retain Dr. Amprey. I think we've expressed by our actions last year how we feel."

Last year, the city awarded Dr. Amprey a four-year contract, raising his salary to $140,000 and increasing his annual expense account from $5,000 to $15,000.

In 1993, he was a finalist for the post in New York, but pulled out of the competition.

This year, while mayoral candidate Mary Pat Clarke was calling for his resignation and pledging to replace him if she should win, New York called again.

Some colleagues said yesterday that Dr. Amprey submitted his resume only after persistent requests from New York school officials, but is not interested in leaving Baltimore.

At a time when his position was threatened, it looked good to be wanted elsewhere, colleagues said. Even in New York -- where in recent years, chancellors have lasted about two years managing a school system about 10 times the size of Baltimore's. The current chancellor, Ramon C. Cortines, will step down Oct. 13.

The chancellor manages 1,100 schools serving more than 1 million children, and with the school board oversees an $8 billion budget, said John Beckman, spokesman for New York City schools. Baltimore has 184 schools, a $647 million budget and a projected enrollment this year of about 114,000 children.

"We have about as many employees as you have children," Mr. Beckman said.

Several school board members here said they have been assured by Dr. Amprey that he's not a candidate -- and would be unlikely to go to New York if offered the position.

"I don't think he would go, now especially," said board member Kathy Shapiro. "I would not just be surprised, I'd be stunned."

"I can only go by what he says: He says he is not in the running," said Mary Robinson, school board member.

Baltimore needs consistent leadership, which it didn't have for many years, she said. Dr. Amprey is serving in his fourth year. If he completes his contract, he will be tied for having the longest tenure of a Baltimore superintendent in 35 years.

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