VIDEO: What new Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau heard at her West Seattle stop

Seattle Public Schools‘ new superintendent, Denise Juneau, is on a “listening and learning” tour around the district. Last night, she held a town hall at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in North Delridge. It was supposed to start with an opportunity for youth to talk with her, but there were no takers; the second part of the event was livelier, and she took questions for roughly half an hour. We recorded that part of the town hall on video:

Equity was a major topic of discussion, and Juneau says that refining the district’s definition will be a goal of her first multi-year strategic plan. That’s part of her “listening” on this tour – to get communiy opinions on a variety of issues. Among them, the challenges: simply getting to school is difficult for some, from lack of sidewalks to inconsistent bus service. Juneau said figuring out better ways to transport kids is one of her top priorities as she is “super frustrated” by how the system currently works. She added that in most of the meetings she’s held so far, parents’ frustrations about transportation have amplified the need to rethink how the district gets kids to school because – as she points out – we can ask kids to be in school and then fail them by not getting them to school in a
timely manner.

Other issues that surfaced included how much falls on the shoulders of PTAs/PTSAs, whose fundraising opportunities vary widely school to school, and differences in how much freedom principals have to run their schools as they see fit. Site-based control traced back ~20 years to the late Superintendent John Stanford, but the pendulum is likely swinging back to more district-centric involvement in running schools, she observed. Juneau also heard parents voice concern over language-learning programs and changes in advanced learning. She was introduced by School Board president Leslie Harris, who represents West Seattle and South Park:

The superintendent’s tour has one more stop in Harris’s district – one week from tonight, 6-8 pm Thursday, October 18th, at Concord International Elementary (723 S. Concord) in South Park, with the meeting to be in Spanish, with English interpretation.

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