The Baltimore County school board wants to know what kind of a school superintendent residents want.
In beginning its search for a permanent replacement for the ousted Stuart D. Berger, the board announced last night that it will seek public opinion -- in writing and in person -- "on the direction and goals" for the schools and "what kind of superintendent should be selected to implement those goals."
The board also will hire an independent consultant to compile the information, said board President Calvin Disney.
He said the board will use the public's views "in developing a profile of an ideal superintendent."
Although the board engineered the buyout of Mr. Berger's contract in secret and even agreed to secrecy as a condition of the $300,000 deal, Mr. Disney has said the board will be more open in its search for a new superintendent.
"The openness issue has us very concerned," he said last night.
Indeed, the statement said "the board will make every effort to keep the public well-informed by making periodic announcements" about its progress in the selection of a superintendent.
But board members met privately during two recent weekends to discuss how they would proceed with the selection. Last night's statement represented a consensus of those discussions.
Beyond the call for public comment and the hiring of a "facilitator," the board's plans are incomplete.
It will advertise the superintendency in newspapers and professional journals next month, but "we have not finalized the time line or the budget," Mr. Disney said.
"Last time we budgeted $55,000 and we spent $38,000. I would hope we would spend less than that this time," he added.
The board must choose a superintendent by July 1, when Anthony G. Marchione's term as interim superintendent of the 102,000-student system expires. Dr. Marchione could apply to keep the job permanently.
As its "facilitator," the board will employ Maureen Steinecke of Steinecke Associates, a Laurel firm offering "services to governing boards."
The deadline for submitting written comments is Jan. 15. They should be sent to: Board of Education, 6901 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21204, Attn: Denise Zepp.
Individuals and groups that would like to have interviews with Ms. Steinecke should make appointments through Ms. Zepp, (410) 887-4126. Interviews will be conducted from Jan. 2-15.