Tignor Says Chief's Job Isn't for Her; Thornton, Brown Leave Door Open

Beatrice P. Tignor (Upper Marlboro) has led the school board since it was created in 2002.
Beatrice P. Tignor (Upper Marlboro) has led the school board since it was created in 2002. (By Rafael Crisostomo For The Washington Post)
By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 23, 2005

Who will lead some 200 principals, 8,000 teachers and 136,000 students in Prince George's County public schools?

Howard A. Burnett , named interim schools chief following the May 27 resignation of chief executive Andre J. Hornsby , has made clear he is merely a caretaker to get the system through the summer break and the reopening of school in August. The Board of Education has not yet announced a search process for a longer-term successor.

But school board Chairman Beatrice P. Tignor (Upper Marlboro) sought last week to squelch the idea that she is interested in the chief's job herself. Vice Chairman Howard W. Stone Jr . (Mitchellville) had suggested Tignor would be a strong candidate.

"I believe it's my responsibility to stay focused to continue the positive work this board has begun," Tignor said in a telephone interview. She said she would neither propose herself as candidate for chief executive nor accept the post if pressed to take it by a majority of the nine-member board.

"At this point, drafting would not change my mind," Tignor said. "I would turn down the position."

Tignor has led the board for three years, since it was created in 2002 by gubernatorial and county executive appointment. Under state law, the board will give way to an elected successor after county elections next year.

Among the names mentioned for the job of schools chief are those of former school board chairman Alvin Thornton , a Howard University official and political scientist, and county Chief Administrative Officer Jacqueline F. Brown , a former Howard County education official.

Thornton has not ruled out the possibility that he would take the chief's post, but has told The Post he would not tout himself as a candidate. Brown, interviewed briefly last week after a news conference at the county government building, took essentially the same stance, declining to comment on the situation. It seems likely other names will emerge, too. Tignor said the board will give the matter highest priority this summer.

"I'm concerned for the system," said state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick , asked about Prince George's in an interview in Baltimore. "So many people there are dedicated educators. They've lived through a lot of difficult changes. There's a feeling of, we've got to have stability and continuity."

Grasmick said the school board needs to find an "outstanding" leader. "The sooner, logistically, they can get a permanent leader, the better."

Budget Approval Likely

Tonight in Upper Marlboro, the school board is expected to approve a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Total spending is projected to be $1.38 billion, up from $1.27 billion in the year now concluding.

Last week, the board wrestled with about $46 million in possible reductions from the $1.42 billion spending plan it had originally requested from the county government. A top concern was a $6.4 million reduction in money for textbook purchases that Burnett proposed to help balance the budget.

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