Friday, July 18, 2014

Seattle School Board Appoints Larry Nyland as Interim Super

The Board seems in agreement of the appointment of Dr. Larry Nyland, former superintendent in Marysville (and a former Superintendent of the Year) to be the interim superintendent.

More to come.  Board seems enthused.

- Carr and Martin-Morris were out-of-town but were on speaker phone.  All the Board spoke highly of Dr. Nyland.  The vote was 7-0.
- Nyland's motto - "Listen, learn and lead." He wants to learn more and touch base with all groups/district leadership and set priorities.

- pay and start date are still to be negotiated
- He surprised many of us when I asked about whether he would consider staying on permanently.  He said it was too early to tell and he wouldn't rule it out.
- He has a huge resume, full of great achievements and has worked with Native American groups, districts and UW as a consultant.  He has sat in over 100 classrooms in the last couple of years, assessing teachers/principals.
- I asked him about working with a school board.  He said that everyone needs to be going in the right direction.  He likes the Strategic Plan.  He believes it's good to flesh out ideas from the Board and staff.  He said the Board is not there to be a rubber-stamp but to add to decision-making.
Tulip tribes on closing achievement gap
- He knows he doesn't have a year to listen (like Banda) and will need to create a 90-day plan.
- I asked about charter schools.  He said it was the law and he initially had reservations about them around taking the easier students to teach.  He met with the Washington charter group and sees that charters should be serving at-risk students with challenges. He said "we need good ideas."  This worries me but only a little.
- they will start the process of looking for a permanent superintendent in September with a hire date in April/May.  There will be community engagement.
- I asked what he thought was important to get a superintendent to want to stay in a district.  He said he had been in Marysville for nine years (some "rocky") but he felt it worth staying the course.
begin in September and in April or May and community processs
- He had mentioned that he was born and raised in Seattle and graduated from Roosevelt.  I teasingly asked him if he, as superintendent, would be able to say anything good about Garfield.  He laughed and said, of course, but he was a Rough Rider.  I also pointed out that RHS has all the old yearbooks so I could go look up his high school graduation photo.  He just laughed.

Experience, calm, leadership - I think Banda may have just done this district a favor.


Catherine said...

A quick read of his linked in profile and some news articles... and unverified statement/facts (unverified by me) This may well be an inspired choice.

Jon said...

I'm impressed with this choice given what I've read about him so far. It is true my expectations were very low, but, even so, this looks like a good choice by the Board. Kudos to them.

Anonymous said...

Memo to SPS audiovisual, no live mike on questioners at press conference.... Answers from new Supt. and Pres. Peaslee out of context.


Carol Simmons said...

What was the question about Charter Schools? And what was his response?

Anonymous said...

He's a good guy. He helped Shoreline make peace after a tumultuous Supe. Unfortunately the Shoreline School Board didn't like him because he put teachers and students ahead of political games and appeasement. Teachers in Shoreline loved him and were very upset when he was not hired as the permanent Supe.

Good choice

Just Saying said...


Nyland didn't rule out charter schools!

This board does not support charter schools. He better get any thoughts about charter schools out of his mind.

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mirmac1 said...

I was encouraged by what some said was good success working with the Tulalip Tribe in Marysville School District. I hope this bodes well for both their academic outcomes and their outrageously disproportionate identification as requiring special education.

Anonymous said...

What about special education - was there anything on this during the press conference? Does anybody know Mr. Nyland's track record?


Kathy said...

Special thanks to the Seattle School Board. They found an experienced and qualified individual within a very short period of time.

I'm sure the board put in many hours on this project.

Unknown said...

Melissa, the vote passed unanimously, not 7-1.

-west seattle parent

mirmac1 said...

Melissa asked the best, most insightful questions, in a nice, welcoming way. Nyland refused to answer whether he would seek the permanent position. That is wise. Either he will but doesn't want to appear ambitious and grasping, or he doesn't but did not want to suggest to anyone that he's a lame duck from day one. west seattle parent is correct that Melissa misspoke on the vote. Nyland appears to be a sound choice by consensus.

dan dempsey said...

Check the MSP data at Tulalip Elementary:


Not much in the way of positive change.

So much for what someone said as far as measurable results go.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, Dr. Nyland mentioned both Sped and capacity issues as being important.

WS parent, sometimes I just don't know what to say to people who love to correct me (but never bother to acknowledge the effort). But I corrected the error.

mirmac1 said...

Melissa, you asked better questions than the softballs offered up by the "real" journalists. Great job!

Anonymous said...

This appointment sounds like an inspired choice by the School Board. We need somebody with seasoned, local leadership to make sure everyone is swimming in the same direction with the confidence of the Board and the community. He might even have the clout to reverse directions against all the test-score, pay-for-performance pressure from Gates and RTTT/TIF. Nothing else could be more important to addressing the systemic breakdowns and inefficiencies that are caused by the ideological polarism at all levels in SPS. But let's let him focus in August on setting out some clear shared goals for the year and on making some swift financial decisions that can ensure a smooth opening of school in September.

The Board should be commended for working so quickly, confidentially, and intelligently to have Dr. Nyland in place and ready to hit the ground running for August. Thank you, Board!


Eric B said...

On the charter schools issue, Nyland doesn't really have that much say one way or the other. Yes, SPS could theoretically become a charter authorizer, and the superintendent would likely have to lead that effort, but the Board would still have veto power. I don't see how staff could reasonably go to the Board with that ask after how much time they've spent complaining about workload.

If the state Charter Commission approves a Seattle charter, he has no authority to say no. So it makes sense that he won't rule out charters. I'm not a charter supporter, but I might have ducked the question too if I were in his place.

Anonymous said...

Well, he's

1) not offensive
2) knows WA state

That's something.

But... he hasn't led a district of our size. SSD has 52K students, and the level of complexity is exponentially magnified in our setting compared to the three other districts he spent a lot of time in. By size, he's worked in much smaller districts: 8K (Shoreline 1 year), 11K (Marysville 9 years), 16K (Pasco 10 years), 18K (Highline 6 years as CAO). Our very urban setting and very diverse demographics and heavy SpEd component (14% of total enrollment) and sheer size 52K students enrolled, is a BIG change from anything he's ever managed before.

Not a critism, just an observation.

Hope for the best. The board could have done way worse. If Dr. Nyland ditches certain folks from his Cabinet in order to right size the overhead, then I'll know he's a contender. Not in the first 30 days, but, definetly in the first 90. Banada went on a hiring / promotion spree. Time to reverse engineer those expense and unproductive, top-heavy moves.

-welcome #8 (but who's counting...)

Anonymous said...

I agree -welcome, that would be great but aren't you contradicting your own argument about not having enough big city experience for the job? Getting rid of too many folks can be quite destabilizing. In fact, I wonder if he couldn't entice Libros to consider coming out of retirement too...


Lynn said...

Seattle Public Schools Demographics

Marysville Public Schools Demographics

Melissa Westbrook said...

One last thing I forgot to include.

I asked President Peaslee if Superintendent Banda would be leaving with any last-minute agreements, verbal or written, before he leaves.

She said no.

I hope that is the case because it would be poor form to sign something as he walks out the door.

Charlie Mas said...

Mr. Banda has an outstanding promise to establish an advisory committee on academic achievement for african-american students. It was part of the Mann Building deal. With him gone, is that promise now void?

mirmac1 said...

I expect the reason Carr, HMM, and Blanford were enthused about him is that Nyland has been consulting on WSSDA, the pro school directors org. I don't agree with a number of their positions.

Anonymous said...

There was also the promise to L@L to get a stand alone accelerated program that they already exceed at WP.


Just Saying said...

"I asked President Peaslee if Superintendent Banda would be leaving with any last-minute agreements, verbal or written, before he leaves.

She said no."

Any chance the district is holding back information from the board on a particular initiative?

Just Saying said...

District staff working on Preschool for All reports Charles Wright. Why didn't Wright have this project documented on his "to do" list?

When will Charles Wright discuss the district's interaction with the Gates Foundation regarding Preschool for All. Again, I didn't see Wright's work for Preschool for All at the Board Retreat.

When will the district tell the board that they have been asked to draw-up a Partnership Agreement with the City regarding Preschool for All?

Will Charles Wright take this agreement, present it to the Superintendent and Board?

When will Wright present the city's preschool plan to Nyland?

Melissa Westbrook said...

More to come on that Just Sayin.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know LN's thoughts towards gifted ed and special ed?


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Charlie Mas said...

If you had a promise from Superintendent Banda, well, I can only hope that you didn't already do your part of the quid-pro-quo because there ain't gonna be any quo for you.

Charlie Mas said...

The best thing that Mr. Nyland could do with his thirteen month position would be to end the culture of lawlessness in Seattle Public Schools and replace it with a culture of compliance. He could do that by enforcing the rules - guidelines, procedures, policies, administrative code, and laws.

Anonymous said...

In marysville he had a top down philosophy with staff and was divisive with the various employee groups, pitting classified staff against certified staff. This created poor working conditions, poor staff cohesiveness and dysfunction among staff in the schools. He may have played well with the school board, but employees were scared of him and he treated them poorly as did his minions. Discipline in schools also was a big issue during his tenure. Bullies got away with a lot so that there would be less student suspensions on record. This led to students at Totem middle school walking out and protesting because they were tired of getting bullied and there being no accountability / discipline