Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday that he was pushing to lure former New York City schools chancellor Rudolph F. Crew to run the D.C. school system.
The mayor's comments came as Miami-Dade County school officials expressed optimism that Crew would accept their offer to become superintendent. School Board members in Miami-Dade said they are hoping to approve Crew's contract Monday.
Williams is on a panel of seven city and school officials, known as the education collaborative, charged with recommending one or more candidates for superintendent to the school board, which will make the final selection. Crew is one of four people the panel is considering, and it has not made its recommendation yet, officials said.
Still, Williams's comments yesterday indicated that he favors Crew. He said that he has been in touch with him and that he would be disappointed if Crew accepts the offer in Miami.
"We're going to continue to push to try to get Rudy Crew," Williams said. "Everybody thinks very highly of him. If the door is at all ajar, we're going to continue to push."
Crew, who ran New York schools from 1995 to 1999, has not returned repeated phone calls seeking comment this week. He is now an official at the Stupski Foundation in Northern California, where he works with school districts and other organizations to advance education reforms.
The other candidates under consideration are Candy Lee, a former airline executive; Carl A. Cohn, a former superintendent in Long Beach, Calif.; and Stephen C. Jones, the superintendent in Syracuse, N.Y.
The Miami Herald reported yesterday that Crew plans to accept the job in Miami. But Miami-Dade School Board members said that while they were optimistic about getting Crew, he had not told them he would take the job. Crew was said to be touring Miami yesterday.
"He didn't confirm or deny," said School Board Vice Chair Robert B. Ingram, who met with Crew on Wednesday. "It sounds pretty good to me."
School Board member Frank J. Cobo, who also met on Wednesday with Crew, said: "He didn't say, 'I'm accepting Miami,' to me, at least. . . . I think the feeling was yes."
In the District, officials have been discussing what kind of salary will be needed to attract Crew or other candidates.
Williams, repeating comments made by his spokesman Wednesday, said yesterday that city officials are considering asking business leaders to contribute to a total compensation package as high as $600,000 in the first year. Of that, about $350,000 would be salary and bonuses. The annual salary would drop to about $250,000 in subsequent years, the mayor said. He said officials were considering creating a blind trust so that contributors could remain anonymous.
City officials, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of violating agreements not to discuss the superintendent search process publicly, said that the $600,000 package may be necessary to attract Crew but that other candidates likely would require less.
Paul L. Vance, who resigned as superintendent in November, was paid $175,000.
Some other localities have used public-private partnerships to pay officials who command large compensation packages. Officials in St. Louis, who unsuccessfully courted Crew, had planned to use some private money to pay him.
Some D.C. school board members expressed concern about the activity surrounding Crew and the discussion of the next superintendent's compensation.
William Lockridge (District 4) said city officials should not be talking about salaries until the school board selects a candidate and negotiates a contract.
"The mayor is trying to take charge of the school system when he doesn't have the authority to do what he's doing," Lockridge said. "The board puts a package together and then sells it to the mayor and council. . . . You don't set the dollar amount up front. That's what negotiation is about."
Mayoral spokesman Tony Bullock said Williams was not usurping the school board's power and was working with other officials to make the city competitive with other areas.
Lockridge, who said he prefers Crew, Cohn or Jones at this point, also said that paying a superintendent with private money would give private interests too much sway with the schools chief.
With officials in Miami negotiating a contract with Crew, some D.C. school board members said they were concerned about increasing a salary offer for him.
"I'm certainly not supportive of a bidding war," board member Dwight E. Singleton (District 2) said. "I think that sets the person up for coming in under unrealistic circumstances and expectations."
Singleton, who did not take part in interviews with finalists Friday and Saturday, said that Crew appears to be a strong candidate but that he has not committed to anyone. School board member Tommy Wells (District 3) said he prefers Lee over the other candidates because he believes her background in business, along with schooling in education, makes her best suited for the job. Several other board members did not return calls.
Staff writers Sylvia Moreno and Lori Montgomery and researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.