In addition to steering the state's largest school district, Denise Juneau plans to spend her first few months on a listening tour, meeting with labor unions and getting a crash course in district operations and finances.
The new superintendent of Seattle Public Schools has a busy six months ahead.
In addition to steering the state’s largest school district, Denise Juneau plans to spend her first few months of her job on a listening tour, meeting with labor unions and getting a crash course in district operations and finances, according to a 2,100-word transition plan published recently on the district’s website.
It’s a long and sometimes vague to-do list, but the overarching themes of the “entry plan” are relationship building and community engagement. Aside from the listening tour, which will run from August to October and include a minimum of five regional meetings, Juneau plans to meet with labor unions, invite news media for informational briefings on the district, conduct focus groups with students and establish a Community Engagement Advisory Committee that reports to her and the School Board.
A summary of what Juneau learns from these discussions will be collected in a document and used to inform the district’s strategic plan.
Although her official start date was July 1, Juneau has already met with city leadership, according to the plan. She tweeted a photo with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan at a USA Basketball Women’s National Team game the day after the district approved her employment contract.
She has also met with student journalists from Seattle high schools, the plan says.
Beyond community engagement, the plan also reflects some challenges ahead for the district. One of the 10 “transition” goals mentioned is to promote a climate focused on racial equity and eliminating disparities in academic performance, something that the district has tried to do with varying degrees of success for at least 70 years. Juneau worked on reducing academic achievement gaps for Native American students in Montana, where she served as state superintendent until 2016, but hasn’t overseen a student body as demographically diverse as Seattle’s.
Ensuring voter confidence in the district will be another priority for Juneau. Two school levies are set to expire next year unless voters choose to renew them in February 2019.