I spoke with several people connected with this issue on Friday.
Gabe Ross is the communications person for Sacramento Schools. He verified that some Sacramento School Board members will visit SPS this week. He said that their Board has to wait until their next official board meeting to take a vote (that's July 1th) because, under California law, they cannot vote in a new superintendent at a special meeting.
Patrick Kennedy is the president of the Sacramento School Board. He said Sacramento has about 44,000 students. He told me their last superintendent stayed about four years and made a
salary of about $260K (I think this was without benefits). That
superintendent left to move back to the East Coast and they have had an
interim superintendent for about a year.
He said there had been a national search with 15 applicants and six finalists. He said that Banda was the only finalist for the job.
I asked him about Mayor Kevin Johnson who is a big ed reform advocate nationally and is married to Michelle Rhee. He said that the Mayor has no direct power over the school district and was careful to say that Mayor Johnson tends to speak more on a national level than a school district level. Interesting.
I am puzzled, though, about this visit from Sacramento school board directors. I mean it would seem that no district or board owes any help to a district/board that is poaching their superintendent. They make it sound pro forma but it seems counterintuitive to me.
There were about 8 media there. Banda and Peaslee were the two speakers.
Banda said mostly what you would expect. SPS has a dedicated staff, accomplished "much," SE schools doing better, Strategic Plan blueprint, etc.
Peaslee wished him well, said he stepped into a difficult situation and did his work quietly, without much fanfare. Oddly, she said few people were aware of his leadership and hard work. (I say that seems odd because he is the superintendent and should be the most visible person in the district.)
She stated the Board would be meeting next week to determine next steps including meeting with union partners. She said they did have the Strategic Plan as a "roadmap" for the next superintendent.
? to Banda - Did you reach out to Sacramento or did they reach out to you?
He said he had been contacted by a search firm and, upon follow-up questioning, it was not the first time.
? to Banda - What would you recommend to the Board to keep the next superintendent?
He said there was a good team in place and that was the most important thing to keep together.
? to Peaslee - Will you appoint an interim?
Yes, so we have time for an in-depth search. She noted that most urban superintendents do not stay longer than three years and that there should be an acknowledgment of the realities of the pressures of a big district superintendent.
? to Peaslee - Are you worried about the perception of our district being difficult?
She said no, this is not unusual for an urban district and that the district is stable and "mapped out."
? I asked if the Board wants to follow the Strategic Plan, does that mean they will not be looking for a change agent but more a caretaker leader?
Peaslee said they want someone who can sustain the momentum.
Banda would be leaving on or directly after the vote in Sacramento on July 17th so the Board would be making plans around that date.
Banda said he was taking a pay cut but I suspect it will not be by much (and Sacramento is likely a less expensive city to live in).
I asked Banda about Sacramento's ed reform-minded mayor and that his district has charter schools. He said it was a good question but he knows that the roles of mayor and superintendent are separated in Sacramento as they are here.
He also said this, "Everyone is doing things for the right reasons for children." I always worry when I get that "it's for the kids" line. Because it always seems to come out when something less-than-good is happening.
Peaslee was asked about trust and she said that a good board reflects our city and should be clear with a superintendent about what they are looking for. She said trust doesn't always mean you will agree but that you will mutually trust each other's judgment.
I'll be blunt - the Superintendent is acting for his own personal good. There is no one pushing him out, he likes his team but he has decided that his California pension and being nearer to his family mean more. That's his call but it's not the best thing for our district and it troubles me that he is jumping ship so soon. It's very disappointing.
As for President Peaslee, I'll have more to say on her understanding stance after the Superintendent makes his exit. I think she is keeping her own wise counsel.
Since there is a Strategic Plan in place that the Board supports, I would have to think this is a more than clear position for our district to present to any candidate. (That it is overly large is another issue but I think a smart superintendent can handle that one.)
It makes for a job description that doesn't need a big mover and shaker but frankly, a competent administrator who can be inspirational. (And please note that I put "competent administrator" before "inspirational" because we really need to get Central administration on track before we need a cheerleader.)
I think we will not hear a lot from other city leaders out loud but I suspect there will be some furious back-and-forth to the Board about how to conduct a search.
I think one thing is clear - we need to get someone who is somewhat local and therefore (hopefully) less likely to jump ship for personal reasons. Too many superintendent candidates are hopping from job to job in hopes of a big salary/quick results before moving on to the next big thing.
While I have, in the past, supported an educator, it may be time to look more broadly.