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April 24, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Superintendent finalist Jose Banda’s plan: Stabilize district, avoid big changes

Schools finalist Jose Banda spoke with the media Tuesday April 24, 2012 at the school district's headquarters in Seattle. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

The first of three finalists for superintendent of Seattle’s public-school district, in town for final interviews, said at a news conference this morning that his top priorities would be to understand the community and build stability among the staff.

Jose L. Banda, currently the superintendent of Anaheim City School District in Southern California, took pains to compliment Seattle Public Schools, which he called a “jewel.”

Banda, 55, who has never served in a district as large as Seattle and has never dealt with the type of public scrutiny that exists here, also praised the community.

“I see the attention from the media, I see the politics here, as being a good thing. You have people who want to be actively engaged,” he said.

While he offered few specifics about what he would do if selected, Banda said he would not craft a new district strategic plan and would not move to make immediate changes in the central administration.

“I’m not the kind to come in with a set plan,” said Banda, adding that “there’s nothing more important than getting feedback from the community.”

Banda voiced qualified support for several tenets of the so-called education reform movement, including Teach for America, standardized testing and including student test scores as a component of teacher evaluations. But he said it is important to go slow and weigh all potential changes individually.

Banda appeared a bit uneasy during part of the brief session, at one point forgetting a word while answering a question in Spanish (he is bilingual). He called the interview process “intense.”

At the same time as his news conference, fellow finalist Steven W. Enoch was visiting schools. He will meet with the media tomorrow. Another finalist, Sandra L. Husk, will arrive tomorrow and meet with the media Thursday.

Whoever is selected will replace Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield, who will become schools chief in Highline in July.

Comments | More in Education | Topics: Jose L. Banda, Sandra L. Husk, Seattle Public Schools

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