The Seattle School Board made it official Wednesday night: It's selected José Banda as the next school superintendent.

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The Seattle School Board voted Wednesday night to open contract negotiations with the man it wants as the next leader of the city’s public schools, José 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 comments, 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.

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“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 Banda’s contract by its next regular board meeting, on May 16. His 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 is expected to start the job July 1, the day after Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield leaves to lead the Highline School District.

Enfield was named interim head after Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson was fired in March 2011.

Forty-two people applied for the superintendent job, and three finalists visited town last week.

The two other finalists, Steven Enoch and Sandra Husk, withdrew from consideration.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or On Twitter @brianmrosenthal.

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