Fenty, Bobb Get Head Start

By Yolanda Woodlee and Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 2, 2006

It was sort of a candidates' forum -- a private one, that is -- between Democratic mayoral nominee Adrian M. Fenty and candidate for school board president Robert C. Bobb.

Fenty, who is widely expected to win Tuesday's general election, and Bobb, who is the front-runner to head the school board, chatted extensively last week about making changes to the struggling system.

"It was a very positive meeting," Fenty said. "A lot of ideas about the urgent need to push forward."

But Fenty acknowledged: "He hasn't been elected, and I haven't been elected."

The meeting at the John A. Wilson Building took place shortly after the mayoral candidate returned from New York City, where he talked with city officials about how they improved their school system. Fenty wants to take control of the District's public schools and possibly turn the board into an entirely appointed one.

If Bobb wins, that move could leave the take-charge manager in a position without any power.

Bobb, who had been city administrator since 2003, resigned in September, saying he wanted to "throw his heart, mind, soul and body" into winning the school board presidency. He is one of five candidates, including Vice President Carolyn N. Graham; Timothy L. Jenkins, a technology consultant who was interim president of the University of the District of Columbia; Laurent Ross, first director of the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program; and Sunday Abraham, a school activist.

Fenty said he hadn't decided exactly what changes he would make to the school board, though he thinks that the system has too much bureaucracy and that he has a mandate from voters to reform it.

During the transition period, he wants to establish "goals, timelines and benchmarks" and in the end, have a process where decisions are made "efficiently and clearly."

Whether that process will require the superintendent to report to the mayor will not be influenced by "whoever sits in those two seats," Fenty said, referring to the board president and superintendent.

So why meet with Bobb?

"It's important to have a good relationship with Bobb," Fenty said. "It's just a good idea to stay in communication with current and former future leaders in the city."

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