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Education

Seattle School Board Accomplishments

4 Dec , 2015  

We did all this! December 1, 2011-December 1, 2015

Nobody knows what happens behind the scenes in a large and complex school district unless they work there.  School Board Directors have a unique perspective because we’re charged with oversight and are well-advised to stay out of management.  Our decisions set priorities and drive them forward. But ultimately it’s the Superintendent’s job to be sure our decisions are executed, along with the countless other things that must be done to keep a district running. This list of accomplishments doesn’t include all those other things.  These are just the most significant initiatives put in motion by the Board I was privileged to serve on. Our successes were due to our ability to work together as a Board and with the Superintendent and his staff.  The work of a school district is so demanding and complex that it takes a very well functioning team to move it forward. No one is perfect. No one can accomplish the impossible.  But together we can make enormous progress, knowing that there’s always more to be done. Here’s what we did:

  • Passed and implemented Green Resolution ensuring greenest and most cost-effective design standards for new schools and renovations;
  • Passed Bell Times changes, leading the nation as the largest district in the US to switch to later start times for teens;
  • Passed Testing Resolution to shift away from excessive testing toward classroom based formative assessments. This puts us on the leading edge of a national trend;
  • Hired Larry Nyland, one of the best Superintendents in decades;
  • Aligned Superintendent and Board evaluations to Strategic Plan thereby focusing all work on achieving the same goals;
  • Adopted Race and Equity policy. SPS is one of first districts in US to do this;
  • Race and Equity Policy, plus Strategic Plan, plus governance priorities with a laser focus on helping our most underserved students;
  • Resolution to eliminate suspension of elementary schools for non-violent offenses;
  • Greater social-emotional support for students: 50/67 elementary schools are implementing RULER, a strategy that focuses on positive relationships with effective discipline;
  • Neighborhood assignment plan executed, modified, improved;
  • BEX levy passed with strong support from Seattle voters making it possible to build 8 new school buildings and do significant improvements and expansion on 9 more;
  • Launched 7 Creative Approach schools and held the line on charter schools;
  • Launched additional new schools: JAMS, Hazel Wolf, Licton Springs, Boren STEM, Cascadia, Robert Eagle Staff, others?
  • Indian Heritage middle and high school program, developed and about to launch at Denny and Chief Sealth;
  • Completed 3 Language immersion international school pathways;
  • Started IB at Rainier Beach;
  • Launched Seattle Preschool in partnership with city;
  • Adopted Math in Focus – a shift to greater clarity in math education;
  • Adopted new Social Studies curriculum, new Science standards, Common Core standards;
  • Significant improvements in Special Ed. SPS is no longer on the Federal Watch List, and the Special Education department met 40/40 elements of the R-CCAP 5;
  • Improved transparency and coherence of our finances and internal controls. Clean audit this past year; Good bond rating over entire 4 years;
  • Created Civil Rights (Title IX, HIB) office to ensure safety of all students at school and on field trips;
  • SEA collective bargaining agreement gains: Greatly improved approach to teacher evaluation; guaranteed 30 min recess; long overdue raises in the pay of educators;
  • No allegations by the media of School Board dysfunctionality for the past 2 years.

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I'm a TV/video producer, web designer and writer, now heading up the Biz Department at Ingraham High School.



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