School Board consultant did not know of votes

October 25, 1997


Staff Writer

Like the Washington County Board of Education, a consultant who was paid $4,800 to help the board search for a new superintendent did not know there were three votes against extending or renewing Herman Bartlett's contract in Montgomery County, Va.

But Bill Ecker said he did not believe the number of votes against Bartlett was important because he realized the problems Bartlett had faced in Montgomery County.

Besides, Bartlett, who was named Washington County's new superintendent last week, was highly praised for his efforts to increase test scores, reduce class sizes, build curriculum and bring "fiscal equity" to schools, said Ecker.


Bartlett was also described as very proactive, and "every step he made was forward," said Ecker, who has worked 35 years in education as a consultant, superintendent and college teacher.

"Almost every comment I got was along this line," said Ecker.

If Bartlett does not do a good job leading Washington County Schools, Ecker said he will be "the most surprised and the most disappointed person."

Montgomery County Board of Education members declined to discuss the reasons for not extending and renewing Bartlett's contract, but controversy had marked much of his tenure there.

His style was described as brash and intimidating in newspaper stories and interviews with school officials.

Members of the Washington County Board of Education said they were not bothered by the votes and remained convinced Bartlett is the best person to lead the school system.

Ecker, former Caroline County superintendent and executive director of the Public Schools Superintendent Association of Maryland who now lives in Denton, Md., said he checked references for superintendent candidates and helped set up criteria for the search, such as the type of questions to ask candidates.

Ecker said from what he's learned about Bartlett's past in Virginia, he probably "bit the bullet" in some tough situations, which caused some people to alienate him.

"Hey, I've done that. Being a superintendent is not an easy job," said Ecker.

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