Patrick Robinson
New Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda was honored by a class of 2nd graders with a gift of a plant during his tour of Arbor Heights Elementary School on Thursday May, 17. Banda was voted into the job unanimously by the School Board on May 16. CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE

SLIDESHOW: New SPS Superintendent Jose Banda toured Arbor Heights Elementary

A day after new Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda was voted into the job by a unanimous School Board vote he came to Arbor Heights Elementary School to take a tour, meet some students and answer some early questions from the media.

Banda, who is currently the Superintedent of the Anaheim City School District, will leave that job at the end of June and start his new role in Seattle in July.

The tour consisted of brief visits to reading and math classes where he took the time to speak to a few students about their studies.

He was accompanied by John Christenson Arbor Heights PTSA, School Board Member Marty McLaren, Principal Christy Collins, Aurora Lora

It was concluded with a rehearsal/performance by 5th graders
in the instrumental music program at Arbor Heights. This is part of school-day
instruction and is available (free of charge) to any 4th or 5th grader who is
interested.

At times during his visit, it was like a rockstar was on campus with 7 or 8 media people running ahead of him, and jockeying for position. Banda took it all in stride and spoke to teachers and students about what they were studying.

Banda said he is interested in getting more background on the Building Excellence (BEX IV) levy coming up for a vote in February 2013.

The BEX IV six year capital levy replaces the expiring BEX III bond: taxes would be collected in 2014 and ending in 2020. The (separate) Operations Levy makes up about 27% of the annual operating budget for SPS.

Banda said it was possible he could make major decisions reasonably early in his tenure saying, "anytime you talk about systems and organization, I have to take a look at the organizational structure of this district and see if it is still meeting the needs of this town, this community."

Acknowledging that "there's a steep learning curve here but I've always considered myself a fast learner so I'll be taking it on and soaking it as fast as I can, working with folks to be able to make those decisions that move us forward or maybe we need to take a look at a pause in certain areas.

Efforts revolving around transportation, Banda said were "maybe the process was off a little and maybe the idea was there but in terms of engaging the community and the parents and making sure that they were a part of that conversation, maybe that part was missing. I think we'll do that in any future projects that we may have."

Banda believes that he has to build community trust. "It's one thing to say you going to build these relationships and it's another to go out and do it."

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