Superintendent José Banda reflects on 2012-13 school year

The following letter was sent to Seattle Public Schools staff, students and parents on June 12, 2013:

Dear Seattle Public Schools community:

As the 2012-2013 school year draws to a close, I want to thank you all for welcoming me in my first year as your Superintendent. It has been a pleasure to get to know the schools and community and learn about the ideas and concerns each of you have. My conversations with educators, students, families, staff and community members have provided insight for changes and priorities, both for this year and for the future.

Throughout the year we’ve celebrated successes and addressed challenges. The 2,900 students graduating from high school this year are a visible reminder that our primary purpose continues to be ensuring that students graduate prepared for college, career and life.

We are building for the future

Our enrollment continues to increase, with more Seattle families choosing to send their children to Seattle Public Schools. Thanks to approval by Seattle voters, two key levies will help us address running the District and improving our schools to better meet student needs and our growing enrollment.

We are setting high academic standards for all of our students

Closing the achievement gap continues to be a key focus for Seattle Public Schools. Implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS) plays a major role in our efforts. CCSS have been adopted by 48 states, including Washington, to provide consistent learning goals in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Students learn transferable, 21st century skills, including critical thinking, collaboration and self-assessment, to help them thrive after graduation from high school. CCSS foster equity in education as all students are ensured of comparable learning expectations no matter where they live.

Safety of our students and staff remains a top priority

The safety of our schools was brought into sharp focus in December. After the tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, we conducted safety audits of all 95 schools. One result has been to increase security patrols of our elementary and K–8 schools. We will continue to use safety protocols and drills and work with the Seattle Police Department to keep safety a focus each and every day.

We have a plan for the next five years

One final item I’d like to mention is our work to update the District’s Strategic Plan. This plan will guide our District for the next five years, and has included participation from families, staff, teachers, students and community members. It is expected to be presented to the School Board for approval this summer.

As part of our work moving forward, it is our goal to continue to develop strong family-school partnerships in every school, in order to help our students achieve. We will also build upon our strong community partnerships. I look forward to meeting families, students and community members to ensure success for all of our students.

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable summer! And thank you for supporting Seattle Public Schools.

Sincerely,

José Banda

Superintendent

Seattle Public Schools

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