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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 21, 2015 at 5:26 PM

Bill would allow Seattle mayor to tap two school board members

A state lawmaker has proposed new legislation that would give the mayor of Seattle the power to appoint two members of the Seattle School Board.

The bill will likely prove controversial.

Under current law, the board has seven members, each elected to represent a different geographic region within Seattle.

The legislation introduced Wednesday by state Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, would allow a school board to have two of its members appointed rather than elected.

The change would apply only to school districts containing cities of 400,000 people or more, meaning it would, in practice, apply only to Seattle.

The appointments would be phased-in: There would be one appointment allowed in 2018 and two starting in 2020.

The current system is failing Seattle children, particularly children of color and children with disabilities, Pettigrew said in a statement.

“We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results,” he said. “When the current system isn’t working, it’s time to do something new, something smarter.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray didn’t immediately comment on the legislation Wednesday. But he hinted in a KING-TV interview last month that he might be open to a governance change.

“There are different models of how school districts and cities operate around the country,” he said. “Sometimes there’s a blending of the governance structure. Sometimes there’s an appointment of maybe the superintendent.”

“I spent 18 years in the Legislature and 18 years of frustration with the school district,” Murray added. “I do think we need to look at the governance structure. But that doesn’t mean that I want to control the school district. I think the city needs to have a bigger role.”

Comments | More in Local government, State government, State Legislature | Topics: education, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle School Board

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