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Monday, October 23, 2006

KUOW Report: Raj to step down

KUOW just had an announcement that Raj is stepping down.

Here's a link to the P-I article: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/289654_manhas23ww.html

and the article:

Manhas to resign
Seattle schools chief won't seek contract extension.
Monday, October 23, 2006
By JESSICA BLANCHARD, P-I REPORTER

Seattle Schools Superintendent Raj Manhas, at the helm of a district with a looming financial crisis and deeply divided over closing schools, is leaving his post.

Manhas said this afternoon that he will fulfill the last year of his contract, but not seek an extension when his present agreement expires next year.

"After careful consideration, I have decided that this year will be my final year as superintendent of Seattle Public Schools," he said. "This is a personal decision I have made in the interests of my family."

He said by announcing his decision now, he will give the district a chance to launch a full search for a successor.

Manhas' three years in the job have becoming increasingly tumultuous, spurred largely by his plans to close elementary schools. The closures themselves result from the second heavy burden of his job: financial difficulties that could leave the district awash in red ink unless it cuts costs and brings in more money.

In 2005, Manhas proposed closing schools but gave up in the face of community uproar. This year, he tried again, using a lengthy public process to give parents a say. This summer, the School Board agreed to close seven school buildings. But a second Manhas plan to close three additional buildings never got off the ground. The board tabled that proposal last week after an extended, heated -- and at times ugly -- public hearing at which parents and community leaders dumped on the superintendent's proposal and criticized him by name.

Manhas was the district's chief operating officer in June 2003 when the board made him interim superintendent after Joseph Olchefske resigned. A national search for a permanent superintendent collapsed, and Manhas got the job for good in October 2003.

Manhas, who as a master's degree in engineering, became the third consecutive Seattle superintendent whose background was not in education. He came to the district from Seattle Public Utilities where he was director of field operations. He had also been in banking.
Manhas is paid about $177,000 a year.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's the District press release:

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Raj Manhas announced that the 2006-07 school year will be his final one as superintendent. Manhas shared his decision publicly, and with sufficient time to allow the district to conduct a thoughtful and thorough search for his successor.

"This was a very difficult decision for me," said Manhas. "Serving the district as superintendent has been an incredible honor and the most rewarding part of my career in public service. I feel blessed to have worked with the staff, students, parents, and citizens in our district. They are remarkable people who care deeply about public education and their community."

Manhas joined the district on October 10, 2001 as Chief Operating Officer and was appointed Interim Superintendent on June 4, 2003. Recognizing his skill, intellect and his ability to provide much-needed stability at a critical time, the School Board permanently appointed Mr. Manhas as Superintendent in October 2003. He has been instrumental in restoring the fiscal integrity to the district and is widely credited for instilling a sense of hope and healing among staff in the wake of a financial crisis.

"I believe I have fulfilled my responsibilities as Superintendent and have accomplished much during my tenure thanks to the dedication and skill of our staff, families, and community partners," said Manhas. "I will continue my efforts this year to make sure progress continues in the district."

Seattle students outperformed state averages at almost every grade and subject area on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). More than 80 percent of our 4 th graders are proficient in reading, 60 percent at 7 th and 82 percent at 10 th . Writing scores also improved with 79 percent of our 10 th graders meeting the state standards. While math continues to be an area of focus, the district is implementing a new math curriculum adoption and we expect to see similar gains in this content area. The district also developed a cohesive academic vision to increase student achievement that was shared with the community in September.

As for district finances, Seattle Public Schools anticipates building reserves to over $20 million, about 5 percent of the non-grant general operating fund. This is a remarkable accomplishment given the financial position just four years ago. The district's structural deficit and budget gap has begun to be addressed with the closure of seven school buildings and implemented the first round of cost savings in transportation by moving Franklin and Ballard High School students from yellow bus service to Metro bus service.

"I want to thank the board, staff and the community for giving me this opportunity. We have an outstanding school district and I know the fine work will continue," said Manhas.

The 2006-2007 school year will be busy and Manhas has every intention of completing the work at hand. Two levy measures are scheduled for February, the district is implementing seven school closures, examining student transportation and assignment, and a relentless focus on academics to improve students' math, reading and writing skills

Anonymous said...

It was the right decision. Raj was barely treading water at this point. I just wonder how hard it will be for this Board to pull itself together to figure out a process for a new Super. I would appoint Carla the interim and take a good long time to figure out a process and then do it. We don't need to rush to find someone. I think the Board needs to involve the Mayor and City Council so it looks like a city-wide process. They don't have much credibility as it is and this would look better.

Beth Bakeman said...

Fabulous news!!!

I agree completely with Melissa that Carla should be the interim and the district should take its time with a search.

Johnny Calcagno said...

I like Carla, but do we really need an interim if Raj is going to serve another eight months?

Beth Bakeman said...

I'm not sure, Johnny. Honestly, in my excitement I read "end of the year" as being end of 2006, instead of the end of the 2006/2007 school year.

Hopefully, we can hire another permanent superintendent by June 2007 (and I think Carla should be considered as a candidate). But I also think we should take as long as is necessary, and not rush the process.

Anonymous said...

I don't have that "Ding Dong The Witch is Dead" feeling at all.

Here's what I see:

First, I don't expect Raj to put one ounce of energy into implementing any of the CACIEE's recommendations - not that he was really pushing those forward. This means additional delay on the reform effort, additional delay on developing any sort of strategic plan, additional delay on EVERYTHING. And who is to say that the new Superintendent will feel in any way bound to implement the CACIEE's recommendations?

Second, no matter how well the Board manages the hiring process for the next Superintendent, the Times will say they blew it. In fact, it is the Times that has most likely poisoned the process by blaming all of the Superintendent's failures on the Board and saying that the Seattle Board is a national laughing stock.

Third, I don't know that the Board will do such a good job of the search. They often disappoint.

Fourth, I think that there is a real chance that they will decide that we don't need both a superintendent and a chief academic officer. The only reason we have a chief academic officer is because the last two superintendents didn't know anything about education. They may simply offer the Superintendent job to Carla Santorno. I'm not sure that she would take it.

Fifth, would a new superintendent keep Carla as CAO? We need some stability of leadership following two years of marking time with the Manhas/Wilson administration.

Anonymous said...

The timing of my announcement is appropriate as I will be completing my final year of a three-year contract.

I don't think this means he is leaving at the end of December
However- it does give the district more warning than some of the principals give their schools.

( so can we make sure that the search committee knows how to Google this time?)

Anonymous said...

I am not pleased that Raj resigned. I didn't want him to step down, I wanted him to step up.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't thrilled with it either
I am just thinking of all the time/money that will be spent while trying to come to consensus about what foot to lead off with next
Time & money that we can't afford to squander- however to some the process is more important than the goal- but my kids can't afford to wait 20 years while we argue about whether families and schools north of the ship canal are inherently more racist than families and schools south of the ship canal- and whether we should spend money on transportation hauling kids from opposite ends of the district or whether we should pay attention to improving the schools so the money stays there.

And what does "improving" the schools look like?
Is it increasing preparation and rigor so that we can get 60% to pass the WASL?
Or is it offering instrumental music at all schools, and subsidizing full day kindergarten not just for low income students but those in Hawthorne Hills?

Will we get an educator as superintendent this time?

I don't think they need to have more community forums to try and get everyone to hold hands

The last search- there WAS a consensus that an educator was needed, and that was ignored.
Whats the point of asking opinions if it is an empty gesture?
are we to just keep asking for opinions until we get the one we like?

Anonymous said...

Saw that one coming the second they killed Phase II hours after its arrival last Wed -- lame ducks seldom do much good, so wouldn't you think it better for him to just get out of the way now? "End of the school year" is still a long way off.

Beth Bakeman said...

Charlie, You have got be kidding! In my October 9th post, "Seattle Needs a Superintendent Who Knows Schools", you posted the following: "Mr. Manhas has demonstrated, time and time again, that he is not up to the job of Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools." And then went on to spell out all his failures. Why the change of heart? Did you really think after 3 years of poor performance he was going to turn it around?

Anonymous said...

Beth, I didn't THINK he would do it; I HOPED he would do it. I WANTED him to do it.

My first choice would be for Raj to do all of the things that he said he would do. He hasn't, and that leaves me with my second choice: that he get out of the way and let someone else do it. No matter how much I might want that, it remains my second choice.

My kids were enrolled in Spectrum and are now in APP. My first choice would be that they are appropriately served at their neighborhood school. Since that isn't going to happen, our family settled on our second choice: enrolling them in APP. I'm extremely grateful with APP and generally pleased with the education that my children are getting, but it remains my second choice.

This is what grown-ups do: we accept options that are not our first choice when the first choice simply isn't on the menu. The ability to switch quickly to a Plan B without much fuss is a hallmark of maturity. Temper tantrums are a hallmark of immaturity. Lashing out with spiteful and self-destructive choices is a hallmark of immaturity. I'm not saying that one is inherently better than the other, but I prefer to do business with sane and rational adults who are ready to switch to Plan B (or C or D or E...) and try to make it work.

We have to keep our eye on the prize. The ultimate goal is not to replace Raj, but to have a effective superintendent who fulfills the District's goals while adhering to the District's values. Raj did neither, but of course I wish that he had.