The interim superintendent of Seattle Public Schools has been in conversations with leaders of Bellevue School District.

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Apparently Susan Enfield prefers Bellevue to Seattle.

The popular interim leader of Seattle Public Schools, who unexpectedly announced in December she won’t seek the job on a permanent basis, called Bellevue School Board President Paul Mills on Wednesday to express interest in that district’s superintendent vacancy, Mills said.

Enfield has also talked about the job with former Bellevue Superintendent Amalia Cudeiro, a longtime friend of hers who resigned Tuesday, Mills added.

Mills said the district is advertising the position and will hold community meetings to solicit input later this month, but he indicated Enfield is a strong candidate for the job, which opens up July 1 — the day after Enfield’s Seattle contract ends.

Mills and other officials have been following her work in Seattle since she was one of three finalists for Bellevue’s top job about three years ago, he said. The board chose Cudeiro instead.

“We want to make sure we go through a public process so that everyone has a chance to weigh in,” Mills said. “But yes, she’s certainly a candidate.”

Both jobs have the same annual salary: $225,000.

In a short statement, Enfield neither confirmed nor denied her interest in Bellevue.

“I have tremendous respect for the work that the Bellevue School District has done, and I wish Amalia nothing but the best,” she wrote. “In terms of my next career move, I am looking to put down roots somewhere and therefore I am exploring all options very carefully before making a decision.”

Cudeiro was not immediately available for comment.

Enfield and Cudeiro both attended the Harvard Urban Superintendents Program.

Speculation about Enfield’s potential interest in Bellevue began Dec. 16, when she announced she would leave Seattle for “personal and professional reasons.”

She has declined to elaborate on those reasons, but hinted last week it was due to disagreements with Seattle School Board members.

Just one day before Enfield’s announcement, Cudeiro told the district she would be taking medical leave to be with her ailing mother in California. Her resignation had been expected by many in the city.

At a Seattle School Board Board meeting Wednesday night, several board members declined to comment on why Bellevue would be a more appealing job than Seattle.

Jeff Hansen, former president of the Bellevue Schools Foundation, noted that the city has a long track record of student success and solid relationships between the board and the superintendent.

Enfield, who previously was deputy superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Wash., started as chief academic officer in Seattle just four months after missing out on the Bellevue superintendent job.

She took over as Seattle’s interim leader last March after a financial scandal led to the firing of then-Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

Since then, Enfield has impressed many in Seattle, including the school district’s labor unions.

Molly Schladetzky, co-president of the Bellevue Council PTSA, said she thinks most parents would welcome Enfield.

“The rumor is going around, and there seems to be positive reactions to that rumor, at least from the parents I’ve talked to,” Schladetzky said.

Michele Miller, president of the Bellevue teachers union, said teachers there were impressed with Enfield when she interviewed three years ago.

Union issues

Labor relations are likely to be a concern as Bellevue searches for a new superintendent. Union members overwhelming voted no confidence in Cudeiro last summer.

The situation has improved since Eva Collins took over as interim superintendent, Miller said.

Collins will continue in that role until the end of the year, said Mills, the board president. In the meantime, the district is hurrying to find its next leader.

The process will start with community meetings Feb. 14 and 16, he said. The district also will devote a section of its website to parent comments.

“We’re going forward as quickly as we can,” Mills said.

Most superintendent searches begin in November or December.

Seattle’s search, which formally started early last month, is also on an expedited track. The board has hired Illinois-based recruiting firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to start identifying candidates.

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