Now or Never for Berman

Tonight is the last chance to retain Sheldon Berman

Tonight’s Jefferson County Board of Education meeting is the last hope for those in favor of keeping Superintendent Sheldon Berman on the job, and the prospects don’t look good for a reversal in the Board’s 5-2 vote to get somebody new.

It’s not that Berman doesn’t have support. Groups and individuals as diverse as GLI’s Joe Reagan, the NAACP’s Raoul Cunningham, business leader David Jones, Jr. and state Rep. Darryl Owens have said that replacing the chief is not the solution to the system’s problems.

Mayor Greg Fischer, asked about the issue today by WHAS Radio, says he’s not picking a dog in the fight.

Jefferson County Teachers Association president Brent McKim, who has been working to persuade board members to reconsider the decision to fire Berman, said he’s hopeful something will convince two of the five board members who voted Berman out to change.

“I would not say I’m optimistic,” he said. “We do believe the right thing to do would be to keep him.”

He said that among the five members — Debbie Wesslund, Joe Hardesty, Larry Hujo, Diane Porter and Carol Ann Haddad — only Hujo has thus far expressed a willingness to reconsider the vote. The others have remained steadfastly opposed.

McKim said that while Berman is actively seeking other jobs, he would prefer to stay on in Louisville.

It’s a tough call for the Board, which must deal every day with an angry public and constant criticism for the long bus rides (just exposed last week by WAVE-TV) required under the student assignment plan. On the other hand, firing Berman isn’t going to solve that problem — his successor will inherit the same Catch-22 — the choice of sacrificing diversity for higher student achievement and shorter bus rides.