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Here are the three candidates to be the next leader of Seattle Schools — and here are a few things to ask them about

You have to move fast when trying to hire the best person to grow the opportunities and meet the challenges of operating the public school system in a wealthy, increasingly stratified, and still somehow growing West Coast city. Seattle Public Schools is giving you only two days on this assignment: Provide feedback on the three finalists to become the next superintendent: Montana Office of Public Instruction superintendent and member of the Mandan Hidatsa Tribes, Denise Juneau, superintendent of Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs, Andre Spencer, and superintendent in the Ann Arbor Public Schools system, Jeanice Swift:

You are invited to a Public Forum for all members of the community to hear from the candidates on Thursday, March 29 from 5:00-8:15 p.m. at the John Stanford Center Auditorium. It will also be broadcast live on the District’s Channel 26.

You may submit feedback on the candidates by completing the following surveys:

Candidate Denise Juneau

Candidate Andre Spencer

Candidate Jeanice Swift

Please submit any comments by 9:00pm on Thursday, March 29 to allow the Board time to review the feedback. The Board intends to vote at its meeting on April 4 to begin negotiations with a single finalist.

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To start 2018, CHS spoke with educators and officials about the most pressing issues facing Seattle Public Schools including the ongoing issues over state funding and the coming next round of bargaining over a new teacher union contract. 20% of Capitol Hill’s Lowell Elementary School students are experiencing homelessness, and inadequate staff capacity to address their needs, while nearly 3,500 students across the entire Seattle school district are homeless. Concerns about charter schools continues over worries that they siphon off vital funding for public schools and promote racial and economic segregation.

Discipline reform, racial equity in advanced learning programs, and ethnic studies are also hot button issues for the district. The Seattle school district has a long history of thorny and deeply embedded issues concerning racial inequity and institutional racism. In 2013, the district was investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for the troubling disparate discipline and out of school suspension rates that black and other minority students faced in contrast to white students. In late 2015, the school board voted to halt suspensions for minor infractions in elementary schools and commit to developing alternative ‘restorative justice’ methods of discipline for those students.

You might also want to know about where the candidates stand on issues around school boundaries and classroom space, gun violence, early learning, and post-high school opportunities.

Good luck on the test.

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