The Seattle School Board will have two new faces come November, another round of leadership changes in a district that’s had a lot of them in the past few years, including the superintendent and many top staff positions.
In the past few weeks, two of the board’s leaders — President Kay Smith-Blum and past President Michael DeBell — decided against running again, leaving two open seats. Smith-Blum didn’t announce her decision until Friday, the last day of the filing period.
Three people are running for her seat: educational consultant Stephan Blanford, who has worked for the White Center Early Learning Initiative, Seattle’s Alliance for Education, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of King County; LaCrese Green, who previously ran for School Board in 2005; and Olu Thomas, a parent and co-chair of an effort to make the district’s Horace Mann building a community center.
Thomas said one of her main concerns is equity and fairness for minority students; Green and Blanford could not be reached Friday for comment.
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Three others are running in DeBell’s district: economic development consultant Suzanne Dale Estey; Dean McColgan, director of development at the Museum of Flight and former Federal Way councilman; and parent activist and freelance writer Sue Peters.
Dale Estey said the biggest change she’d like to see in education is adequate funding. Peters said she favors fewer standardized tests, a different math curriculum, and less top-down decision making. McColgan said one of his top priorities is improving middle-school instruction.
The only other board member up for re-election this year is Betty Patu, and she is running unopposed.
The candidates will face off in the Aug. 6 primary, and the top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the November election.
The posts are unpaid, except for a small stipend for expenses, and last for four years.
Whoever wins joins a board that has had issues with trust over the past two years, and has been accused of getting too involved in district management.
They will play a part in key decisions such as setting new boundaries for school attendance.
Some hope the board won’t have to start anew in its efforts to work cohesively, and move the district forward.
“We need a board that will work as a whole board and has the interest of the whole district at heart,” said Stephanie Jones, executive director of the nonprofit Community and Parents for Public Schools.
The current board, Jones said, has worked hard to move in that direction.
Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @LShawST