The Baltimore County School Board Tuesday night decided again that classes will start after Labor Day this coming school year, and it heard a farewell address from interim school superintendent Verletta White. WYPR’s John Lee was there and talked it over with Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner.
Sterner: John, let’s start with the interim superintendent. The school board did not give her the job of permanent superintendent. What were her final words to the school board?
Lee: Nathan, at times the relationship been White, her staff and some members of the school board has been confrontational to say the least. White has occasionally chastised board members for being disrespectful to her staff. So last night, while not naming names, White appeared to be sending a final message to the board, to be kind, because children are watching.
White: “Assume the best about those who serve children every day, those from the central office to the classroom. Those from food service to our volunteers. Assume the best in people and not the worst.”
Lee: White said she welcomes Baltimore County’s new superintendent, Darryl Williams from Montgomery County. White said she is working closely with him to ensure a smooth transition.
White said she will always be a part of the Baltimore County School System. After all, she grew up in the county school system. But White said nothing about what her next step will be.
Sterner: How did White’s message go over?
Lee: Well, she got a standing ovation from the board and dozens of people who were there when she wrapped up her remarks with this.
White: “And I want to thank you for your well wishes, for your support, and never forget, we are BCPS, and we are BCPS strong. Thank you everyone. It was my pleasure.”
Lee: Board chairwoman Kathleen Causey thanked White for her service, noting that she went to every graduation this year and shook the hand of every graduate.
But Nathan, it’s worth noting here part of the tortured history. The school board last year voted to make White the permanent school superintendent. But Causey and several other members of that board asked the state school superintendent to take the very unusual step of blocking that board’s vote and deny White the job permanently. The state superintendent did just that. Now the board has a number of new members. And they decided to give the job to Wiliams, rather than White. In the end, White could never escape the shadow of Dallas Dance, who resigned as superintendent, then was convicted of perjury for lying about money he made as an outside consultant while superintendent.
Sterner: When does Williams take over?
Lee: July first. In fact the board approved his contract last night, but Chairwoman Causey offered no details saying it would be available to the public in a day or two.
Sterner: And then there’s the matter of the school calendar. The school board approved a calendar for the coming school year earlier this year which started classes after Labor Day, but last night they did a re-do. Why is that?
Lee: Well what a difference 15 minutes can make. The calendar they adopted earlier assumed 15 minutes was going to be added to each school day. That did not happen because of budget cuts. Losing that 15 minutes a day adds up over the school year. You have to have a certain number of school hours annually, so they had to take another swing at the calendar. They looked at perhaps starting school before Labor Day. But in the end the school board voted to stay with an after Labor Day start, and the calendar it adopted also includes a 10 day Spring Break.
Chairwoman Causey said they’ve heard from parents and teachers alike that changing the start of school now would be a big headache to their personal schedules, so for this coming year at least, Baltimore County Schools will start classes after Labor Day, on September 3rd.