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Originally published Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 4:31 PM

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Editorial: Superintendent José Banda survives divisive Seattle School Board’s judgment

The Seattle School Board’s split over Superintendent José Banda’s first-year evaluation is more of the same from a divisive board.

Seattle Times Editorial

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SEATTLE Public Schools Superintendent José Banda can take comfort in the results of his first job review. Most of the Seattle School Board believes the schools chief has exceeded expectations.

The board majority rated the superintendent as exceeding or meeting expectations in five job categories, including developing district leadership, improving academic achievement and working on long-range goals.

Rare is the first-year employee who aces a performance review. Sure enough, Banda drew sharp criticism from a couple of anonymous board members. They gave him the equivalent of straight D and F grades. Had their view been shared by the board’s majority, the next step would be the superintendent’s dismissal.

Board President Kay Smith-Blum did not give any detail about the dissenting view, or who on the board is unhappy with the superintendent's performance.

Welcome to board politics, Superintendent Banda. A couple of board members were concerned enough to give you extremely low marks, but not concerned enough to articulate why or attach their names to their viewpoints.

That’s extremely unhelpful. It also should not carry much weight, coming as it does from a board that recently gave itself low marks for performance.

Here is the take-away: The superintendent overall earned a good report for a job that has had brisk turnover. He has the confidence of a majority of board members. Anything can change because this is, after all, the Seattle School Board, but for now ignore the low marks and concentrate on continuing a job well done so far.

The public should remember the challenges Banda inherited, including high turnover among district administrators, the need to update the district’s strategic plan and negotiate new contracts with the three biggest labor unions. All of this without knowing what next year’s budget will look like.

Indeed, as the state Legislature continues to work on a budget deal, the district is having to separate the superintendent’s contract renewal into two parts. The board will next vote on whether to extend the superintendent's contract. Discussions about his compensation will be delayed until fall.

No time to worry about board dissenters.


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