Baltimore school improvement plan OK'd Approval by members of Md. Board of Education is called 'a giant step'


The Maryland State Board of Education moved Baltimore schools further toward reform yesterday by unanimously approving that system's master plan for improvement.

Required by legislation last year that created the city-state partnership overseeing the schools, the plan lays out strategies for improving student achievement and creating effective management for the 109,000-student system.

The plan spells out specific changes, such as a new reading curriculum for the coming school year, and sets broader goals through 2002.

"For the first time in my generation in Maryland, I feel a sense of moving in the right direction in Baltimore City," said board member Philip S. Benzil.

Those sentiments were echoed by all the other board members, as well as state Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick, who called it "an absolutely superlative effort. It does speak to the restructuring and reform of the entire school system."

The board's approval carries the stipulation that Baltimore schools submit an organizational chart of administrators to Grasmick and the board by Sept. 1. Grasmick said the schools' new chief executive. Robert Booker, had not had an opportunity to fill all those positions.

In his first meeting with the state board, Booker pledged not to "let anything stand in our way" in turning the plan into action.

"The coming years hold great hope for making changes in the lives of children in the city of Baltimore," he said.

Booker called the board's approval "a giant step" toward improving the schools. The master plan will be sent to the General Assembly for its consideration.

The city school board and school officials worked on the plan for several months before submitting it to the State Department of Education in March.

Board member Walter Sondheim Jr., who lauded the document as "a monumental piece of work," also issued a caution:

"Be careful so that it doesn't stand in the way of getting the basic job done. I'm particularly concerned about promising too much too soon.

"This cannot be done in a day."

Pub Date: 7/29/98

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