Harford board advised on choosing school chief Parents express needs superintendent must meet


Harford County school board members were given a long checklist last night to use when choosing the county's next superintendent.

Parents want their children to have the most up-to-date technology available, speakers told the board at a meeting last night.

But at the same time, some parents said, the next superintendent must be resigned to working within a stagnant budget.

"Funds are not going to expand in the near future. We need a superintendent who can focus on today's reality and how to get the job done with the people power we have now," said Deborah Cook Goldman, who has three children in county schools.

More than 100 parents, teachers, administrators and residents attended the meeting at C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air to talk about their expectations for the next superintendent.

Ray R. Keech, who has been superintendent for nearly eight years, announced last month that he would retire when his contract expires in June.

Many speakers urged the school board to promote an administrator from within the county schools to succeed Dr. Keech. Others urged board members to take their time in choosing the right person.

"This is the most important decision the board is going to make; don't be rushed. Appoint an interim superintendent, if necessary," said Mark Wolkow, who has two children at a county school.

The seven-member board, which will be responsible for hiring the new superintendent, is expected to start a nationwide search soon. The salary will be about $98,445 annually -- the amount Dr. Keech is paid -- according to school board members.

John Holzworth, a teacher at Fallston High School, urged the board to choose a superintendent who will toughen academic standards -- and discipline.

"Society holds individuals accountable for their actions," Mr. Holzworth said. "If students do not learn the lesson, and learn it well they may finally learn it in a courtroom," he said.

Other speakers urged the hiring of a superintendent with experience to manage a rapidly growing school system. Next year's enrollment is expected to increase by 1,000 students to 38,500. In five years, enrollment is expected to be about 41,129.

To accommodate that growth, the school system plans to build eight elementary schools and one middle and one high school in the Abingdon area. Construction of the new schools hinges on funding from the state and the county.

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