Topic: Michael DeBell
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August 22, 2013 at 6:24 PM
A proposal to increase the number of students in a class before a classroom aide and higher pay are provided for the teacher was dropped Wednesday by Seattle Public Schools.
The proposal, which was a controversial point in contract negotiations between the school district and the Seattle Education Association (SEA), the local teachers union, would have added two additional students to classrooms in grades 4 to 12. It would have brought fourth- and fifth-grade class sizes to 30 students before an aide and extra pay was given, and high-school teachers could have seen 160 students per day instead of 150.
The current contract expires at the end of the month.
The board meeting Wednesday night was crowded with teachers waiting to hear the decision on the class-size proposal, which would have been a temporary measure. Eventually, money from the capital levy approved in February will be used to create a handful of new schools and expand others to help with excess enrollment issues.
SEA President Jonathan Knapp said the decision was key in “moving the discussion.” He said the negotiations are moving onto other issues such as the metrics by which the district measures student growth and conditional certifications for Teach for America teachers.
The certifications passed a vote of the school board, Seattle School Board member Michael DeBell said.
Correction: The post originally said Michael DeBell was board president. He is a past president.
May 8, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Seattle School Board President Kay Smith-Blum said Wednesday that she has withdrawn her application for an open seat on the Washington State Board of Education.
Smith-Blum was one of six finalists for an open seat on that 16-member board, which is a statewide advocacy and policy body.
If she had been selected, Smith-Blum would have had to cut short her term on the school board, which otherwise wouldn’t end until November. On Monday, she said she hadn’t yet decided whether to seek a second four-year term on the school board. She also has said she is interested in applying for other State Board posts that will be open in January.
If Smith-Blum doesn’t seek a second term on the Seattle school board, two seats in the fall election will be up for grabs, without an incumbent in the race. Michael DeBell, the board’s most-senior member, announced this week that he won’t seek a third term.
DeBell has served as the board’s president or vice president for five of his eight years in that post. He said he is proud of the work he’s been able to achieve on the board, including working to keep the board focused on policy and oversight without getting involved in district management. He intends to continue in public life in some role, just a new one.
Betty Patu, who also is up for reelection, has announced she will seek a second term.
The filing period opens next week.
May 6, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Michael DeBell, who has served on the Seattle School Board for the past eight years, has decided not to seek a third term, saying he’s interested in doing something new.
DeBell’s board seat is one of three that will be on the ballot this year, along with the ones now held by Board President Kay Smith-Blum and Vice President Betty Patu. Both are in their first terms. Patu has said she plans to run for re-election. Smith-Blum has not made an announcement yet. The filing period for candidates begins next week.
DeBell spent five of his eight years on the board as its president or vice president. In his tenure, he has worked with four superintendents and 15 different colleagues. He has been on the board through two rounds of school closures, the decision to return to a more neighborhood-based system of assigning students to schools, the financial scandal involving the district’s small business program, and layoffs that stemmed from reductions in state funding. During his tenure, the district also passed several school levies by big margins, and negotiated new systems of evaluating teachers and principals.
DeBell said he is proudest of the move to the new neighborhood assignment system which he credits, in part, with the enrollment boom that the district is experiencing.
He said he doesn’t know what he might do next, but hopes to continue to be in public life in some capacity.
December 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM
In a 4-3 vote, the Seattle School Board has selected Kay Smith-Blum as its next president. She’ll serve a one-year term.
Smith-Blum, who was the board’s vice president for the past year, replaces Michael DeBell. She was supported by the board’s newest members — Sharon Peaslee and Marty McLaren — as well as Betty Patu.
Smith-Blum, the president and CEO of the Butch Blum clothing store, joined the board in 2009 after many years as a Seattle Public Schools parent and school activist.
Board member Sherry Carr was also nominated as president, supported by DeBell and Harium Martin-Morris, but fell one vote short.
Betty Patu, who has also served since 2009, was unanimously elected vice president, and Sharon Peaslee, who joined the board in 2011, was selected as the third member of the board’s executive committee, as member-at-large.
June 28, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Dozens of school officials, community leaders and parents welcomed new superintendent Jose Banda to Seattle last night at a reception hosted by El Centro de la Raza.
Some 300 people attended the free event, which included speeches and food from around the world.
But the main attraction was Banda, who starts in Seattle this week after four years leading the Anaheim (Calif.) City School District.
“I feel like I’ve been here in Seattle for a long time already,” said Banda, who arrived about 36 hours earlier. “I look forward to being here for many years, working hard on your behalf, on your children’s behalf.”
We asked event attendees what Banda needs to know about Seattle:
Lina Brown, president of Rainier Beach High School PTA: “Parents are begging for change…I would like for Superintendent Banda to come in and bring an ability to think outside the box — everything is possible here.”
Phyllis Campano, vice president of Seattle teachers union: ”Welcome to Seattle…it rains a lot.”
Jacque Coe, Seattle parent and spokeswoman for Bellevue School District: “Being a superintendent in Seattle is an intensely difficult job. He needs to understand that we’re a welcoming community.”
Michael DeBell, president of Seattle School Board: “Stay focused on the kids, and get to know the community.”
Terri Johnston, parent volunteer at Seattle World School: “Listen to the schools that don’t have a voice, that don’t have the strongest parent engagement.”
Mike McGinn, mayor of Seattle: “Welcome to Seattle. We want to have a collaborative relationship…It’s very important to listen carefully to everybody.”
Sara Morris, CEO of Alliance for Education: “High expectations, drive hard.”
Estela Ortega, executive director of El Centro de la Raza: “I want him to get out in the community and meet people, meet organizations, meet parents, because they’re the ones that are going to help him.”
Robin Swanhuyser, recent Seattle University graduate: “Listen to the community’s needs…Remember your history.”
June 20, 2012 at 7:19 PM
The Seattle School Board tonight approved a contentious proposal to allow commercial advertising on some school athletic fields, scoreboards and calendars.
The unanimous vote came after passage of two amendments — one prohibiting advertising of unhealthy foods, and one limiting advertising to only property surrounding high schools.
It also came after about a dozen speeches of opposition from parents concerned about the amount of marketing children are exposed to.
Most of the money will eventually be earmarked for high-school student governments. Those groups, which support athletic teams, clubs and other expenses, saw revenues plummet after the board voted in 2004 to ban advertising and junk food in vending machines. The School Board promised to repay the money, but never did.
Earlier this year, the board considered relaxing the school district’s ban on junk food in vending machines as a way to increase revenue. But board members settled on advertising as a better path forward.
School Board members called the proposal a modest idea that will greatly benefit students.
“This will do much more good than harm,” Vice President Kay Smith-Blum said.
Before the vote, several parents and teachers said the School Board should come up with a new way to fund the student governments.
“Advertising sales remain the wrong solution to the problem,” said Matt King, who has a sophomore attending Nathan Hale High School. “We parents entrust our children’s education only to you. … We ask you not to sell off even a sliver of your influence.”
Robert Femiano, a 2nd-grade teacher at Sanislo Elementary, called advertising that reaches children ”subliminal coercion” that works against the school district’s mission.
“Just say no,” he said.
School Board members are expected later tonight to get their first look at the district staff’s proposed nearly $600 million budget for next school year.
June 6, 2012 at 6:17 PM
Tears flowed this afternoon as Seattle school officials publicly praised Susan Enfield at her last Seattle School Board meeting as interim superintendent.
Enfield, who will start as the chief of the Highline School District on July 1, is taking unused vacation time that is moving up her departure date to within the next week or so.
In an unexpected tribute, members of Enfield’s cabinet came to the microphone to offer words each thought best described her, from “genuine” to “courage.”
“Thank you for taking an institution that was in pretty extremely rotten waters a year ago and righting the ship and moving us forward,”Ron English, the interim general counsel, told Enfield, who took over for fired former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson in March 2011. “You did an enormous job.”
“Wow,” School Board President Michael DeBell said after the staff spoke. DeBell and his fellow board members took their turn later in the meeting, each thanking Enfield for her service.
Even Betty Patu, the only board member who voted against Enfield’s appointment as interim superintendent, praised her.
“There were times when (you) and I knocked heads, but I can always say that we were able to share our ideas together and see what was best for the kids,” she said.
In a moment of levity, board member Harium Martin-Morris spoke for more than a minute about Enfield’s rubber duck collection.
“That tells you a lot about the person as an individual, what they surround themselves with. Why ducks? What does it mean?” he said. “What it means is that this is a welcoming place, this is an open place, this is a place that also has a sense of humor.”
In turn, Enfield thanked the staff and board members for supporting her.
“It really has been my honor,” she said. “I know that you will continue the good work, you will ensure the success of (incoming Superinyendent Jose) Banda and the success of the students in this district, and again, I’m not far away.”
May 16, 2012 at 7:54 PM
Seattle finally has a new schools superintendent.
The School Board tonight formally made José Banda its next leader, unanimously approving a three-year contract for him to become the school district’s fifth superintendent in the past decade.
Banda flew in for the vote.
“I am just honored and humbled by this selection and by being given this great honor and opportunity,” he said in a short speech.
The contract, negotiated by School Board President Michael DeBell, includes a base salary of $270,000 in addition to a $22,000 annual annuity, a $700 monthly allowance for vehicle expenses, 30 paid vacation days and other benefits.
The contract will make Banda the highest paid superintendent in the state when he starts July 1. The base salary is $6,000 more than former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson made. By comparison, Mayor Mike McGinn makes about $160,000 a year.
DeBell said the salary is appropriate given how demanding nature of the job.
During public testimony, several members of the public welcomed the new superintendent.
“There are very, very many of us in the community, in the school district that would volunteer to help, and we do not want to see the district fail,” district activist Dorothy Neville said.
Banda has pledged to spend his first year getting to know the community without making major changes.
May 15, 2012 at 6:29 PM
Twenty-eight Seattle public school teachers and 17 other school district employees received layoff notifications last week as part of an attempt to cut $20 million out of next school year’s budget.
The notices mean the employees may lose their job next school year, but they could also be rehired. State law requires school districts to tell employees of layoffs by May 15.
The combined number, 45, is slightly smaller than the past couple years and much smaller than in 2009, when more than 200 employees were laid off.
The areas hit hardest were counselors, physical education teachers, music instructors and family support workers. In addition, the district announced it has eliminated 11 positions in its central office this year.
“Although this is a limited Reduction in Force compared to previous years, it is not easy and has a tremendous impact on those employees who will lose their position,” Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield wrote in an email to staff today. “I want to thank those staff members for their service to Seattle Public Schools and our students.”
The Seattle School Board approved the cuts at a meeting earlier this year.
“I feel bad that we have to lay off anyone,” School Board President Michael DeBell said. “If our budget wasn’t so tight, we would certainly want to hold onto all of our teachers and our classified teachers. But we were left with very little choice.”
May 2, 2012 at 7:36 PM
The Seattle School Board voted tonight to open contract negotiations with the man it wants to be the next leader of the city’s public schools, Jose Banda.
Banda, 55, the schools chief of the Anaheim (Calif.) City School District, was chosen by the board in part because of his reputation for soliciting community input, board members said.
“Mr. Banda brings the confidence of a seasoned educator and administrator who will assess the strengths and weaknesses of our system before making change,” board member Marty McLaren said.
Board President Michael DeBell, who will negotiate with Banda, called it a difficult decision but said Banda is ready for the job.
“This is another milestone in the history of this district,” DeBell said.
In an interview afterward, DeBell said he thinks Banda views the Seattle Public Schools superintendent position as a “dream job.”
DeBell also expressed relief at the end of a long process and asked the community to view the new superintendent as a “fresh start” and opportunity to “reduce the rancor.”
The board is hoping to finalize the contract by its next regular board meeting, on May 16. Banda’s base salary is expected to be about $225,000, although it will depend on negotiations.
Before the vote, parent and district activist Cecilia McCormick thanked the board for its choice. Then she turned toward the gathered TV cameras.
“Bienvenidos, welcome, thank you for saying yes to Seattle,” McCormick said in a message for Banda, who is bilingual.” I believe I speak for many in the city when I say we are happy and excited you are coming to lead our district.”
He would start the job July 1, the day after Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield leaves to lead the Highline School District. He would be the first permanent superintendent since Maria Goodloe-Johnson, who was fired in March 2011.
Forty-two people applied for the job, and three finalists visited town last week.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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