School Board To Give Mixed Review to Supe

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson will hear the school board's evaluation of her this afternoon at a closed executive session of the board. Last year, the new superintendent got a glowing report and a hefty raise that brought her salary up to $264,000--more than the governor's, by a long shot. But this year, says school board president Michael DeBell, the evaluation "will probably be more mixed. We're out of the honeymoon."

DeBell wouldn't provide any more specifics in advance of the meeting. But the superintendent's handling of a number of difficult issues--from school closures to teacher layoffs--is drawing some criticism from the public. As I mentioned on KUOW last week, and Seattle Times columnist Lynne Varner wrote about today, it doesn't help that Goodloe-Johnson often seems imperious and brusque--a marked contrast from former Superintendent Raj Manhas. Disenchanted parents are pointing to a recent survey of teachers in Goodloe-Johnson's previous district, Charleston County, S.C. Seventy-three percent of the teachers surveyed said the current superintendent there is an effective leader, compared to 48 percent who said the same of Goodloe-Johnson.

Goodloe-Johnson will hear today from former Boston superintendent Tom Payzant, now at Harvard University, who has been hired by the Seattle school board to prepare its evaluation.

Also today, the district will present the outline of its new assignment plan, which determines which students go to which schools. This is a big deal. In brief, the district will assign students to their neighborhood schools but families can request different schools. Whether they get in or not will now largely be determined by lottery, rather than by how close a family lives to any given school. "That seemed more democratic," DeBell says. Expect to hear lots more about it.

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