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March 21, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Seattle school board OKs guidelines defining its power

In its second high-profile move of its biweekly meeting, the Seattle School Board voted tonight to approve revised language about the line between board and superintendent policy.

In general, the guidelines direct how board members should govern district policy without micromanaging day-to-day school operations.

The unanimous vote belied the contentious nature of the guidelines, which have been hotly debated since its introduction in January.

The original proposal, crafted by Board President Michael DeBell, aimed to ensure board members stopped making time-consuming research requests and demands about individual schools. He said he wrote the proposal in response to Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield’s decision not to seek the job on a permanent basis — a decision he felt was related to board micromanagement.

But some board members, led by Board Vice President Kay Smith-Blum, thought the language was too restrictive. In January, they tabled the proposal in a 4-3 vote that represented the first major disagreement of the new board.

The language approved tonight reflects compromise language worked out in a School Board retreat earlier this month.

DeBell called the debate “very important.”

“The next superintendent, I believe, will be looking for clarity” about the line between school board and superintendent duties, he said.

Comments | More in Education | Topics: Kay Smith-Blum, Michael DeBell, Seattle Public Schools

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