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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Who Should Be Seattle Schools' Next Superintendent? Jeanice Swift

The Board is to vote, on Wednesday night, April 4th,  at the regular board meeting, on who to offer a contract to be superintendent.  Given that they worked all day yesterday (Friday, the 30th), I would assume some consensus was reached on that person.  I think the Board and their search firm, Ray&Associates, did find some excellent candidates. 


However, please DO continue to let the Board know your thoughts.  It may help Board members to feel secure about the choice they will make.

spsdirectors@seattleschools.org

I believe that Seattle Schools would be well-served and lucky to have either Jeanice Swift or Denise Juneau.   These two women are very different in how they communicate and have very different backgrounds in education.  But both are devoted to public education and making it better for the children they serve.  I was very impressed with them.

My pick would be Jeanice Swift but I would not be unhappy in the least if the Board picked Denise Juneau.  Why Swift?
I was struck my Dr. Swift's positive demeanor and her insistence that she wanted to come in and listen and honor work that has come before.  That is fair and wise and makes me breathe easier.   She seemed knowable about issues that affect all districts and even honestly offered that her district's attempts to balance out PTA fundraising dollars hadn't worked well.  It's not often that an candidate will admit a less-than-successful initiative in a public forum.

But I did some more homework and called the school board president in Ann Arbor.  Her name is Christine Stead and she sent me lengthy comments.

She said they would miss Swift terribly if she left but they would wish her well and that she is "legendary." 

In Stead's own words:

When she arrived, our enrollment had declined by 200 students due to years of cuts and a revolving door at the top, making substantive progress challenging. 
She had the know-how to launch 7 new initiatives and engage our community.  These 7 new programs yielded an increased student population the next year of almost 300 students.
The new programs were designed to make significant progress in closing the achievement gap, address buildings with significant culture and performance issues, and make changes in leadership that sent a strong message that we were in a new day. Since then, our district has grown ~1,200 students; our finances are much-improved (difficult in the state of Michigan where there is nothing short of an assault on public education - Betsy DeVos' influence is strong here and has been). 
She has been overwhelmingly successful in inspiring our community's trust again. We have been able to grow programs, hire more teachers, give raises, among other things. We have struggled a bit this year with replacing some key leaders in a timely manner and that has caused some things to take longer to implement - this is perhaps the only area where there have been some challenges this past year; and yet she has managed that as well as anyone. She has earned enough credibility here to ask for patience while she finds the right person for key roles (e.g., CFO, COO to name two, which have now been addressed).
Dr. Swift completely immersed herself in Ann Arbor when she arrived. Her listening tour spanned months; 92 community meetings. People felt heard. This was the foundation for what to do next: short and long term. This approach was wildly successful and you could say she was seen as nothing short of a hero at the end of the first year. You cannot out-work her. She would likely do something similar there. She has a great memory and is great at building relationships, which becomes important for the specific changes needed in buildings and longer-term systemic changes.
In her annual State of the Schools, the theme is 'How are the Children Doing?' based on a Kenyan greeting. She also knows that having an excellent teacher in every classroom is key to closing the achievement gap. We have worked hard to make this possible, and that has been challenging to do. She does not shy away from challenges.

If anyone can adapt to a larger operation and city, she can. I have seen her become an excellent superintendent here (she was not one previously; hiring her was a risk for us). There are parallels in Ann Arbor, where our average Superintendent tenure is ~ 2 years. We are very hard on our Superintendents. We are often cited as the most educated city in America. That brings with it high expectations.
 
And yet we are also one of the most diverse school districts in our state. This year, Caucasian students comprised 49% of our student population for the first time. We also have a very diverse socioeconomic range. I believe Dr. Swift knows how to get at what needs to be addressed, how to manage and build a large team, and she has a great read on people (this may be one of her greatest strengths).

I believe that she is not interested in ANY larger district (we have a few here in Michigan). I believe she is specifically interested in Seattle. I do expect that she is sought after - and will continue to be. She has earned that.
 I read this words and thought, "This is the right person at the right time for Seattle Public Schools."

I also note that I have it from a great source that the teachers union in Ann Arbor really likes Swift.


But as I said, I would also embrace Denise Juneau as I believe her quiet leadership and commitment to minority students would serve our district well.

Superintendent Andre Spencer is a personable man with an easy-going style and a commitment to public education.  But I found his remarks at the Thursday night event vague and felt uneasy about how many times he made the choice to frame education to business needs.  Again, it is not about training workers - it's about creating citizens.  Those two are not mutually exclusive but I'm not sure I heard that from Spencer.

I also believe his ties to ed reform groups like Teach for America and the Broad Academy are wrong for Seattle.  Our district has not embraced Teach for America, choosing instead, to work with SEA and others to create the Seattle Teacher Residency, to grow our own (which is a method all three candidates endorsed).  We had a superintendent that came out of the Broad Academy with disasterous outcomes.  Not again.  As well, he seemed to be for tying teacher evaluations to test scores which would not be popular with the SEA.

Lastly, I understand there was a press conference with the candidates (that somehow I missed) and that all three said they were not for charters.  Superintendent Spencer's record does not seem to reflect that he is not for charters especially since he attended a "choice" convention recently. 

The Seattle School Board has been criticized in some quarters for the superintendent search.  Funny thing, I pulled out my file from the last search, in 2012, and lo and behold! the same things were said.  Group X didn't think they got enough input and Group Y wanted to be in the room for the Board discussions.  I will agree that when school started, the Board should have announced their intention to start the search and laid out a timetable.

36 comments:

Eli said...

The Broad Academy promotes the corporate model of education. This model of education has not closed the gap in any meaningful manner.

"She adds, “It is important to recognize that this “academy” has no accreditation nor standing with any state or federal or private agency. It was invented by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to train future superintendents about Eli Broad’s theories of management. The Broad Foundation, for example, has encouraged school closings, both to save money and to make way for charter schools.”

knoxfocus.com/2014/08/school-system-infected-broad-academy-virus/

Anonymous said...

The best thing about Swift is that she'll likely want stay (until there's an attempt to run her out).

Calling herself a "white ally" and the thing about cell phone towers were rather off-putting. There's such a thing as seeming to be trying too hard. If you're a
"white ally," you don't need to say it because your record shows it.

Gutting some union workers, even though it was the "Michigan Way," is more than a little disturbing. It's downright sickening.

The comments from the parents are more important that what the board president says. Being a good politician can often get you praise from the school board, since many of them are politicians, too.

Spencer is an absolute non-starter with his links to Broad, charters, and TFA. Not going to happen. If it does, then those who voted for him should be voted out ASAP.

Juneau seems like a superstar. The problem with that is that she'll move on after a few years. If that can help SPS turn around, it's work it. Highly intelligent, superintendent of public instruction, law background, living the life as Native woman sucess story (when the odds are overwhelmingly against it...

This board would be crazy to pass on Juneau.

No brainer

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not sure why trying to find revenue by selling a cell phone tower is bad.

As I said, I would be happy with either but yes, I think Swift would stay put for a long time.

I look for Spencer to drop out.

Jami Kimble said...

My friends in Ann Arbor who have kids in school there think highly of Ms. Swift and asked us not to take her. :)

Liking 2 of 3 said...

I agree with this assessment; Swift is likely to stay long-term. She seems to be competent and has a vision of the future and a demonstrated ability to balance competing interests and voices within Ann Arbor's district. Her background in HC education should bring some sanity to that area, which is sorely lacking in this district, and her demonstrated commitment to the humanities will also bring some needed counterbalance to the STEM fad.

Juneau would be absolutely wonderful as well, but I suspect she has long-term aspirations in politics. The next Democratic president is likely to consider her for cabinet, for instance, and she has already run for a Congressional seat (and likely not for the last time). But her vision for closing opportunity gaps is pragmatic and realistic. She shows a polished understanding of the complex of issues underlying that area. Policy-wise and experience-wise, I think she would be every bit as good as Swift and much better in some ways; I found Swift's answers overly political and hedging at times, whereas Juneau is much more plainly spoken. I also think Juneau would be better at cleaning house at SPS, getting rid of a cohort of people in key positions who do not seem to align with Seattle's parents' wants or needs. But I'm worried enough about Juneau's aspirations elsewhere that I think the choice must still tip to Swift.

What we need now is the stability that someone like Nyland has brought, but we also need someone who can execute ideas and bring about needed change, quite unlike Nyland. Swift or Juneau could do that for us.

Spencer is well-spoken, personable, and knowledgeable (like the other candidates), but I am troubled by his weird over-focus on business and "workforce" preparation. It sounds very dated, like he's right out of the 1980s. I got the impression from his talk that he doesn't know (or care) much about the culture and history of Seattle and, more importantly, what Generation Z wants and likely needs out of their educations. His idea that African American kids need African American men to come in a read to them came off like a prepared sound-bite (that he can't possibly believe would actually help much). But worse yet, his notions about getting business involved in education funding deserve ridicule: he is either clueless or has an ulterior motive here. His training with the non-accredited Broad Academy (it's more of a libertarian think tank than an "academy") doesn't mesh with Seattle's values at all, and I'm surprised he was picked as a finalist in the first place given that background. We don't need another Broad disaster like Goodloe-Johnson was. He has a demonstrated track record of moving positions, which is also concerning, and we don't need another person who will bail on us like Banda did. Despite his charisma, he's just not a sensible risk for SPS right now.

But either Swift or Juneau would likely be absolutely excellent. I agree Swift is the slightly better choice. If she'll have us.

Anonymous said...

After so many superintendents without solid educational credentials and the disastrous Goodloe Johnson time, please, please let us have someone who has real classroom experience. Swift seems perfect to get things done while managing the "Seattle process." The idea of someone who has actually demonstrated a commitment to knowing the whole workings of a school district, who talks upfront about arts, AND who knows the classroom? Too good to be true.

That said, Juneau would also be a strong leadership candidate, I just worry about her lack of experience with big urban issues and ability to hit the ground running. Personally, she seems wonderful.

The rush by the Board? I think they want little community input and likely want someone they can manipulate and control. As a teacher in the district, I wish I didn't have to leave comments anonymously but it does not feel safe these days in the district to say what you think.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think it’s less than Board who wants to control the next Super than perhaps other senior leadership and powers that be. They have shown no signs of trying to control Nyland.

I also agree that Swift is clearly the candidate who would stay the longest which folks say they want.

Eli said...

Here is how it works when district's have a Broad trained superintendents. It is important to remember that the board can not micro-manage the superintendent. Broad trained superintendents bring in controversial educational reform initiatives. Broad begins funding positions within the district:

"Also approved on Tuesday were two new hires for positions created through the administrative reorganization that will cost an additional $188,750, but district leaders said those salaries will be funded for two years by the Foundation for Tulsa Schools and the Broad Center’s Residency in Urban Education program."

and:

"Officials said they were identified through a competitive application process for the Broad Center’s Residency in Urban Education. That’s a leadership development program that trains and places participants in high-level managerial positions in school districts, charter management organizations and departments of education."

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/administrative-pay-raises-at-tps-climb-to-as-part-of/article_5258d99c-07fc-58ce-b773-375550665135.html

Anonymous said...

juneau did 8 years at ospi until she termed out. yeah she might be moving on to federal service or even run for governor here in wa. that would be cool.

swift or juneau. spencer needs to sit tight were he is and the sooner the better.

no caps

Anonymous said...

oh and nyland admitting he doesn't read email. hum. that is fireable offense. can we just stop paying him now?

no caps

Barb said...

Juneau said it best, if we want to address the issues in our school district we need to put our money where our mouth is. HCC makes up 6% ish of our district, we have to stop catering to the 6% and focus on the other 95%. 54% of our students are students of color, why do we continue to do things that only support the 46% white students. We have to do things differently to get different results. I see on this blog a continual focus from a middle to upper class white perspective, and that is not the majority of this city or our schools. (I say that as a middle class mixed person, who has a white mother and has a student in HCC). It will cause us to make some choices that will cause some people discomfort but discomfort creates strength and causes us to change in good ways. Swift is just more of the same of what we have in this cities decision makers. We need someone to speak for those who have been ignored for too long.

Seattle Citizen said...

Barb,
What suggestions do you have for addressing the needs of the 54%, of students of color?
I know that various race and equity teams, at District and in schools, have nibbled around the edges but I agree that more needs to be done. I'm just not sure what that is.

I've been on both district and school RETs - it's good that attention is paid, but it seems to cycle: talk, promises to act, talk, promises to act...

There are some few changes that have been made to try to be more inclusive and meet the needs of all, but I'm afraid that a) it needs buy in and action from the entire community (i.e. counseling, dental, tutoring etc) and also b) curricular change to be more inclusive in what is taught.

I'd also like to see more poc as educators in buildings, but again, that's a societal issue that schools can't fix - we need poc applicants and we don't get them.

What are YOUR suggestions?

Simone said...

@Barb

Your points indicate to me that may not fully understand what HCC even is.

First, HC education is enshrined in state law and case law as "basic education." The unusual needs of students in the top 2 percentiles of IQ and top 5 percentiles in achievement thus must be met by every district in the state, and rightly so.

Second, HC education in Seattle actually already costs less per head. In 2016, the district per capita spending is just shy of $15K per student per year, but at an HC elementary school school, an HC school, the spending is around $6K per student. That school doesn't even have a full-time librarian, and its PTA budget is considerably lower per head than much wealthier and whiter schools in North Seattle. HC students use the exact same curricula as other students, just two years ahead (e.g., 5th graders use the 7th grade textbooks), and their teachers are exactly the same as in every other school (there is no gifted ed endorsement in this state). There is no greater breadth or depth, unless a given teacher chooses to provide this, which is as common outside HC as inside HC.

The district does spend money on testing, but it wastes money in its test choices and times, and the testing is required by state guidelines per se. The district could save money using a more rational testing regime that didn't put so much cash in Houghton Mifflin's pockets, but that's a separate issue.

Third, there is not an overemphasis on HC education in this district. If anything, there is an underemphasis. The district has actually taken radical steps to dismantle Advanced Learning programs (within the bounds of the law), which is why Spectrum no longer exists except on paper. That is the opposite of over-emphasis.

Fourth, HC is not all white. White-majority at the moment, yes, but not all white. At any community event at an HC school, you will hear myriad home languages being spoken, from Cantonese and Tagalog to Vietnamese and Amharic. There are HC kids of all backgrounds, and the services they need do not change based on the color of their skin or the languages of their homes.

Now, what the district has not done is implement common-sense changes to HC identification to comply with national norms and improve racial and ethnic equity in the program, although some key things were adopted into law this past session, so we will see these changes next year despite the district's ignoring of them in the past.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't see the case for Swift. She has been a competent but unremarkable superintendent in a small college town district in the Midwest. Her background would seem to make her a great fit for Olympia or Bellingham or even Bellevue or Lake Washington districts. But Seattle?

We have no idea where Swift stands on some of the key public education issues facing this city, in part because she doesn't have a record on them in Ann Arbor. Her primary approach seems to be going along to get along. That seems to have served her well in Ann Arbor but the education scene here in Seattle is much more fraught. What have folks seen in her background and record that indicates she can stand up to the City? To the Gates Foundation? To LEV/Stand for Children/GreenDot? And so on? Does Swift have experience lobbying legislators for more funding, which is critical when it comes to SPS's immediate future (as in the next 12-18 months)?

It's also worth noting that aside from Melissa, whose opinion rightly carries great weight, there's no public clamor at all to hire Swift, whose performance at the public forum was uninspiring. There is a lot of clamor to hire Juneau.

Juneau has a long and proven record on a lot of issues and policies that matter immediately and immensely to SPS, from the achievement gap to testing to charters to equity to ethnic studies. She's managed budgets at a level well above anything either of the other two have managed. She knows how to stand up for herself and for her students against powerful voices. She knows how to advocate in the legislature. She demonstrated a clear commitment to families and students. And, if this Board isn't going to hire the African American candidate, will they really reject the Native American candidate in favor of the white woman?

Juneau would be giving up any future political aspirations in Montana by taking this job. It doesn't set her up to run for governor in 2020. And going from OSPI to SPS doesn't really set her up to be a Secretary of Education in 2021 either - but shouldn't we be flattered that someone thought of as an Education Secretary (especially someone not in the mold of Arne Duncan or Betsy DeVos) would want to lead SPS? No, her decision to apply here means she's willing to stick it out and end her career in Seattle too.

This Board would be taking a huge risk on a totally unknown quantity by hiring Swift. If she turns out to not be so good, the Board alone will own it. If Juneau turns out to not be so good, well, we all wanted her and so that's our collective mistake. I just don't see how hiring Swift makes sense here.

Greenwoody

Barb said...

@simone
I know what it is, I know it's in the law and I know that other kids in our district suffer because the HCC vocal parents are always the ones bombarding the school board. YOU think there is an under-emphasis, that is your opinion and I disagree. I know the demographics of the students in HCC across the district. Even the fact that the School Board said that our IB high schools are not ready to be in the HCC pathway is biased. Let's be real here. Sealth, Beach and Ingraham are doing great things with IB. IB teaches students to think, and to really write college level research and work, but the Board didn't add them to the pathways. Why? "cause their not ready" says who? HCC has been white for years,so don't just say at the moment. I have lived in this city my entire life, I know what it's like to be the one kid of color in the HCC classroom. I have a Masters in Education, so please don't presume that I don't know the law or what is happening at the board level in regards to systems. There are great people in this district trying hard to address the needs of students at all levels, and their work is hampered but the over zealous voices of the few. For example, why not speak to getting Beach remodeled? They have signs up about "asbestos" in the building, constant lack of access to water because of led in the pipes, but I don't hear non-beach parents clamoring to help them, but God forbid we don't offer Rocco an isolated cohort of students from kindergarten all the way to graduation.

Barb said...

@Seattle Citizen

Suggestions would include integrating and differentiating LA, Math, Science at more levels 5-12 and creating mixed honors models. Research shows that the only proven way to address gaps is to integrate students. Research has been presented over and over and the board keeps shooting it down. So nothing really happens, you have to ask yourself why that is. If the district folks keep pushing for changes and the board refuses to implement then of course nothing happens and the gaps keep growing. Yes I know its hard, and yes teachers would need support and curriculum, but that is doable if we put the funds into it, and having additional support personnel in classrooms.

And let's not forget about school counselors. They can't do what their trained to do for caseloads and paperwork. Research shows that you can lower discipline referrals by almost 30% with a comprehensive counseling program. You increase graduation rates by 10- 15% with by adding one counselor rather one additional teacher.

Adding school social workers to help connect families with school and with resources, and more long term counseling support.

Anonymous said...

@ Barb, You might generally "know what it is," but it doesn't mean you are accurately assessing the situation.

You said "we need to put our money where our mouth is." That's cool. But as an earlier poster pointed out, HCC isn't expensive. We're not putting our money there instead of somewhere else, since HCC isn't getting anything special. HCC probably saves us a lot of money in another way, too--by being so moveable, the district's go-to capacity balancing solution.

"... we have to stop catering to the 6% and focus on the other 95%." Huh? What are all these schools and teachers and programs that "cater" to HC students? What are all these special things that HCC students get that others don't? And should HC students not get instruction at the appropriate level? Should we have a "one-size-only" approach, and if so, to whom should that program be geared (e.g., one-size-fits-average? one-size-fits below-standard? one-size-fits group x? Because we all know one size can't fit ALL...

"I see on this blog a continual focus from a middle to upper class white perspective, and that is not the majority of this city or our schools. (I say that as a middle class mixed person, who has a white mother and has a student in HCC)." My kids aren't white, either, but you probably assume from my comments that they are. That doesn't make their academic needs any less valid, however.

"It will cause us to make some choices that will cause some people discomfort but discomfort creates strength and causes us to change in good ways." Discomfort CAN create strength. It can also cause some seriously negative outcomes, depending on the nature of the discomfort. The idea that ignoring the needs of academically gifted students would make them stronger has been debunked. No, they WON'T all just be ok...

"I know that other kids in our district suffer because the HCC vocal parents are always the ones bombarding the school board." Really? I seem to recall a constant drumbeat of anti-HCC speakers at the board meetings lately, as well as anti-HCC efforts on the part of a group of SPS teachers. And how exactly are all these supposed vocal HCC parents making other kids suffer? Nonsense.

Re-Tired

Anonymous said...

@ Barb,

Many HCC students attend their assignment area schools for many years before moving to HCC (if they ever do--many never do), so they are already integrated into ALL classes. And in middle an high school, math isn't part of HCC anyway, so it's already integrated. The new Honors For All approach is happening at Garfield for LA and SS, and for SS at either TM or WMS (I can't remember which). Additionally, since Spectrum has essentially been eliminated, all Spectrum-eligible students are also integrated into AA schools.

Are you suggesting the district add more honors level classes? Won't that be likely to INCREASE student segregation? Garfield, for ex, found it hard to get minority students to take honors and AP classes, so that's why they effectively eliminated honors level LA and SS classes for 9th graders. Fake equity and optics.

Optix

Anonymous said...

As an Ann Arbor Education Association member (Ann Arbor Public Schools Union(, I am not sure the characterization,

"I also note that I have it from a great source that the teachers union in Ann Arbor really likes Swift."

Is 100% accurate, unless you are looking for a Super willing to adhere and push the Right To Work agenda.

Union Dave

Anonymous said...

@Barb

These responses to your post simply prove what you wrote.

Thanks for your insights. You are on it.

The tired arguments by the HCC crowd were proven by the legislature to be baseless. Some now have to concede that the identification process was flawed, but it actually took an act of state Congress to get SPS and the board to stop using their outdated system for HC qualification.

The board is spineless and the district is afraid of these people. That has been the history of why laws were almost always needed to protect those without power and privelege. The hypocrisy simmers in "liberal" Seattle.

Spot On

Anonymous said...

@Led Zeplin

Plenty of typos, poor grammar and spelling errors on the HCC blog.

Your attempt to pull classist rank (and your mocking of the risks to students who attend unsafe buildings) doesn't speak well for you and your intended audience.

Dased and Confuzed

Jondo said...

Are we measuring growth yet? Measuring growth would be more equitable.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ebenezer said...

@Union Dave

Any other thoughts on Swift? I'm nervous about her anti-union actions while in Ann Arbor. Demolishing unions has resulted in historic levels of income inequality, and I don't think that's what Seattle schools should be pushing for. Now, if the press has been unfair to her, so be it, but I wouldn't want her as our next superintendent unless these questions are satisfactorily answered.

Anonymous said...

Lead and asbestos (and earthquake safety...) are a concern at many older SPS buildings (of which there are many, north and south). I'm guessing many of the older auditoriums - at JAMS, IHS, and Lincoln - have asbestos in the textured ceilings. And ceiling tiles? Lots of old ceiling tiles with asbestos. Fortunately, flooring has been redone in many buildings (older floor tiles can contain asbestos).

reality check

Anonymous said...

@Jondo, I agree re: measuring growth. They could set targets representing greater growth for lower-performing groups (since they have more ground to make up), but still some growth for all (even those already exceeding standard). That's what equity would look like. It would require appropriately designed efforts directed at all groups--as should be the case anyway--but more intensive efforts could go toward those with the greatest needs.

DisAPP

Anonymous said...

RB totally needs renovating. So do many other decrepit old schools. Lincoln definitely has asbestos. Dealing with that is part of the renovation plan in turning it back into a HS. Please note that Dealing with the asbestos at Lincoln was not a priority when the HCC kids were there, though...

-Cayman

Anonymous said...

Dear Barb,

I am a Hale Parent. I have been clamoring for sometime for RBHS to receive an upgrade. It is the only high school that hasn't been remodeled and it sorely needs it. Many on this blog have supported Beach and their IB program. I would like the SPSD also give their full support to Beach.

HP

Anonymous said...

Union Dave's comments are very interesting indeed. And a quick Google search indicates Swift's tenure in Ann Arbor has not been rosy:

In 2015 the teachers union filed unfair labor practice charges against her when she and the board unilaterally canceled a contract: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/06/ann_arbor_teachers_union_files.html

In 2016 parents and teachers rose up against Swift imposing a teacher evaluation system that is heavily weighted toward high stakes tests, far beyond what state law required: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2016/01/ann_arbor_teachers_seek_change.html

Greenwoody

Anonymous said...

Rainier Beach had some major upgrades in 2008 and 10 years prior they constructed a new performing arts center with an auditorium. RBHS, which opened in 1960, was built around the same time as Ingraham, which opened in 1959. Ingraham had a classroom addition in 2011 (?) along with a renovated library and new hallway flooring. An ESPN grant was used to renovate their gym. The new addition will add 500 seats, but the main structures will still not be upgraded (similar issues with lead and asbestos). This is not to dispute RB's need for an upgrade, but to point out that they are not alone. Eckstein? Even older. It opened in 1950 and is virtually unchanged. SPS has a backlog of needed upgrades and safety improvements.

reality check

Anonymous said...

Search "andre spencer" "paige kelsey" cheating, if you haven't. Should a superintendent be in better control?


Oldhill

Anonymous said...

@Barb- MANY schools in this district have asbestos, have lead are in poor shape etc. Salmon Bay had bags over their water fountains for years. Look at Whitman Middle, that school has needed a renovation for years. Also, the population has been ballooning up north for some time now and not in the south end. Makes sense the north needs investment in new high schools. Not everything is always about race as you are trying to imply. In fact I feel the opposite about this district. They are very sensitive to communities of color. We constantly have heard about overcrowding at Garfield from SPS and the need to relieve Garfield" a south end school, but Ballard & Roosevelt have been just as or even more overcrowded.
north end sardine

Anonymous said...

@north end sardine, one needs to have plugged their ears not to hear about the overcrowding at Ballard and Roosevelt as well as Garfield. For goodness sake, there is even a new high school opening up north of the ship canal next year to relieve pressure on these schools.

FNH

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just wrote a thread on Juneau and Swift and how the teachers unions view them. Take from that what you will.

Reality Check, you wrote:

"Rainier Beach had some major upgrades in 2008 and 10 years prior they constructed a new performing arts center with an auditorium. RBHS, which opened in 1960, was built around the same time as Ingraham, which opened in 1959. Ingraham had a classroom addition in 2011 (?) along with a renovated library and new hallway flooring."

Just to stay in reality, RBHS has received about $7M in BEX funding over the years. That is the lowest amount invested in any high school...by far. Ingraham may have never had a total renovation (and I have called this out many times at this blog and to the Board) but they have appeared on every single BTA and BEX. All of them.

I understand the district's need to look fair in terms of spreading out the BEX dollars but we are nearing the point where the dollars may have to spread more thinly in some areas than others.

I'll also note that in the first 10 years of BEX, far more was done in the southend than the north end.

Anonymous said...

My choice would be Swift. She's walked on really bad water in Ann Arbor before (fun fact- the superintendent before her lasted 2 years, lived in Maryland, was super duper hated AND was a Broad grad), managed to bring people together and done some work closing the achievement gap. Also, Ann Arbor is super similar to Seattle in terms of demographics (https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/ann-arbor-took-risk-on-rookie-for-top-job-now-fears-losing-her/), so she does understand some sense of Seattle. Have a good communicator would really help in Seattle, and Swift is by far out of the 3, the strongest in communicating to constituents.

Although I like Juneau, she has absolutely zero experience doing school-district central office administration work, and we are not in a position to train anyone on how to deal with school district administration. We do not have time. Juneau was the strongest about the equity/achievement gap issues we have, but it's really unclear how she could do it in a vastly different arena.

And for lord's sake, Spencer is a horrible choice. Let's not go down that path.

Interesting to note that Swift had the shortest resume out of the 3, but could've made it longer. Seems to me like she's more of a collaborative leader than a me me me leader.

If Swift got chosen tonight, I think it'd be wise for Swift to have Juneau as a consultant to deal with the equity/achievement gap issue.

Bob

Anonymous said...

I think it would be a mistake to focus primarily on whether a candidate has done school district-central office admin work. Juneau has plenty of experience interfacing with that kind of work as Montana state superintendent. And she can hire experienced administrators to help do that. Here in SPS I don't think we want a superintendent spending all their time on building management issues; the district is far too large for that to be a good use of their time. We need someone who can focus on driving vision and policy and that's where Juneau excels.

Greenwoody