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Anaheim superintendent Banda picked for Seattle 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.

The Seattle School Board is expected to name Banda in a vote Wednesday and to vote May 16 on a contract starting July 1.

He would replace Maria Goodloe-Johnson who was ousted last year in a financial scandal. The interim superintendent, Susan Enfield, is leaving to take the top job at Highline Public Schools.

Two other superintendents who interviewed withdrew: Steven Enoch of San Ramon Valley, near San Francisco, and Sandra Husk of Salem-Keizer, Ore.

Banda has been superintendent the past four years at the Anaheim district, which has about 20,000 students, making it comparable in size to Federal Way or Northshore school districts in western Washington. Anaheim's student body is about 85% Hispanic, giving it a different profile from the more evenly divided Seattle district.

The Seattle district is the largest in Washington with more than 47,000 students.

Praise for having no agenda

In a news conference on Monday, Seattle School Board directors Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaselee said the board had already settled on Banda on Sunday evening, before Husk withdrew.

They praised Banda for being a good listener, working with community groups, and having no agenda.

"He's not coming in with pre-conceived notions of how this district should be run. That's important because Seattle is a unique place with a huge variety of programs and constituencies," says McLaren.

Banda has told the school board he would spend his first year listening to parents, teachers, and community groups, before making any major changes.

"He will spend time to get to know what we like about our district, and what we want to continue to do in our district," says Peaselee.

In Anaheim, test scores have been rising since he took over.

Banda’s parents were migrant farm-workers in Texas and California, and he grew up speaking Spanish. He started his career as a school counselor and principal, and then moved into district administration.

Keith Seinfeld has been KPLU’s Health & Science Reporter since 2001, and prior to that covered the Environment beat. He’s been a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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