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Seattle Schools Superintendent Banda Poised To Leave Post For Sacramento Job

Gabriel Spitzer
File image of José Banda."

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent JoséBanda expects to leave his post before the end of July after being named the only finalist for a superintendent position in Sacramento, California.

The Sacramento City Unified School District's school board could confirm Banda's hire as soon as July 17.

“I never came in with the idea that I was always going to have one foot outside the door," said Banda at a Friday afternoon press conference, saying considering the move has been difficult. "But you never know what presents itself, and this was one of those things that presented itself as an opportunity.”

While his replacement would be the district's fifth superintendent in ten years, Seattle School Board President Sharon Peaslee praised Banda for bringing calm in the wake of scandal. He arrived in July 2012, barely a year after board members fired former chief Maria Goodloe-Johnson over a financial scandal.

"We were in turmoil. We were losing our best talent," school board president Sharon Peaslee said. "José pulled us all together, stabilized the district."

Though Banda would be the third Seattle superintendent to depart the district in just the past four years, Peaslee says the district is working against the same headwinds districts across the country face in retaining top leaders. 

"We've come a long way in the last two years. Our district is stable," Peaslee said. "If I were a superintendent looking for a job, I would look on Seattle as a strong opportunity."

Banda, who currently earns $270,000 annually, said he would be taking a pay cut in the move, but it would bring him closer to family in his home state.

Peaslee said board members planned to hold a meeting early next week to "talk about next steps." She said they'll name an interim superintendent in the coming weeks and will probably launch a national search.

"I want to assure our families, staff and community that the Board will quickly create a plan to ensure continued stability for our District," she wrote in a public letter. "I know I speak for the entire Board that if Mr. Banda becomes Superintendent of Sacramento City Unified, we will be very sorry to see him leave Seattle."

Banda, a native of Bakersfield, California, worked for more than 30 years in his home state before coming to Washington state. He raised his children in Modesto and held administrative positions in districts in the state's Central Valley and along the northwest coast. He left the top job in Anaheim to become Seattle's superintendent two years ago.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.