Seattle School Board

Do the arts matter? ArtsEd Washington, a nonprofit advocacy group, queried school board candidates across the state about the influence of the arts in their own lives and whether arts education would be a priority if elected this November.

Why should you care about the Seattle School Board race? Consider these three reasons:

1. Unstable Board = Bad for Students

Research has shown that a chaotic board "will repel all people of quality," thereby negatively impacting student achievement, according to Thomas Alsbury, professor of educational administration and supervision at Seattle Pacific University. 

“When boards and central office leaders are viewed as unstable or chaotic, excellent principals and teachers choose to go elsewhere,” Alsbury said.

Photos provided by their campaigns.

Two first-time candidates are facing off in a tight race for a seat on the Seattle School Board. Suzanne Dale Estey and Sue Peters are both vying to represent District 4, which covers Queen Anne, Magnolia, and parts of Ballard.

Seattle Public Scools

A group of local and national experts is calling on the Seattle School Board to get its act together.

Specialists in school district governance say the research is clear: School board dysfunction matters. Seattle Pacific University professor Thomas Alsbury said drama in the board room can poison the whole organization, which affects students.

“When boards and central office leaders are viewed as unstable or chaotic, excellent principals and teachers choose to go elsewhere,” he said.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle’s superintendent of schools was hired in hopes that he could avoid some of the turmoil and scandal of recent years. Jose Banda just wrapped up his first year in charge, and can claim some high-profile accomplishments. But some of the melodrama still lingers, with the school board sharply divided over its own role, and that of the superintendent.

Taking stock of his first year at the helm of Seattle Public Schools, Banda told KPLU a divided board has a definite effect on how he does his job.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Some prominent education officials, including the top dogs in Seattle and in Washington State, want voters to reject a ballot measure that would allow up to 40 charter schools in Washington. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is announcing his opposition to Initiative 1240 Thursday morning, the day after Seattle School Board members voted unanimously to oppose the ballot measure. Seattle Superintendent Jose Banda recently reiterated his personal disapproval of the initiative as well.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle school counselors say they’re getting hit harder than ever by budget cuts, and a pack of them turned out at Wednesday’s school board meeting to protest the latest round of layoffs.

It all stems from a change three years ago to how Seattle Public Schools funds counselors in elementary schools. The district stopped paying for them as regular employees, and instead gave schools a choice: use your discretionary money, or let them go. Now, almost two thirds of elementary schools don’t have a counselor, and the district has sent pink slips to a dozen counselors at middle-and high schools.

Updated

The Seattle School Board is asking Anaheim School Superintendent Jose Banda to lead the Seattle school district.

The district says Board President Michael DeBell contacted Banda Sunday night, and he expressed his willingness to take the job.

ErikaJSchultz / Twitpic

Seattle's school board fired Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Don Kennedy, the district's chief financial officer, Wednesday evening, as was widely anticipated. The votes were unanimous.

The action was swift retribution following revelations of a financial scandal that drew the anger of board members and the public. The board then voted 6-1 to appoint Susan Enfield as interim superintendent.

Gary Davis / KPLU

A financial scandal will likely force an abrupt end to the tenure of Seattle Public Schools superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. The school board will vote Wednesday evening on a motion to terminate her contract.

Gary Davis / KPLU

The Seattle School Board could soon decide whether some district employees should lose their jobs over alleged fraud within the school system. This week, the board expects to receive the results of an investigation into $1.8 million dollars in contracts for services that might have never been completed, or even started. 

Despite opposition from the local teachers' union and a lawsuit from parents and community groups, Teach for America has announced it will return to public schools in the Seattle area in the 2011-12 academic year.

A group of Seattle parents and community members has filed a lawsuit to stop Seattle Public Schools from bringing Teach for America to the city.