SEATTLE -- Susan Enfield, the interim chief of Seattle's school system, accepted an offer Tuesday to become superintendent of Highline School District.
The Highline School Board issued a statement late Monday afternoon saying the job was offered to Enfield pending successful negotiation of a contract and completion of a background check.
"The school board feels that Dr. Enfield's skill, passion, and educational leadership will match the expectations we and our communities hold for the children of Highline Public Schools," said School Board President Angelica Alvarez. "We made our decision after much consideration, and an extensive process involving staff, community members, business leaders and especially parents."
During a news conference Tuesday, Enfield said the decision came easy.
"This is a real easy district to love," Enfield said.
Highline School district is one of the most diverse in the U.S. with more than 100 countries represented among the student body. It's also a school district facing several challenges. Test scores are low, poverty is high, and a large number of students speak English as a second language.
"We are still in the midst of some very challenging budget times," said Enfield. "So how do we, in a time of tight resources, make sure we are marshalling our resources to achieve our mission of educating our children well?"
Enfield took over the Seattle public schools system in March 2011 after her predecessor, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, was fired after a state audit found the district's small-business contracting program provided little or no public benefit. The man who directed that program, Silas Potter, is now facing criminal charges that he and two co-defendants bilked $250,000 from the district.
Enfield surprised many observers in December when she issued a statement saying she did not want to be a candidate for the full-time job. Seattle has yet to complete its search for Enfield's successor. Enfield is also a candidate to head the Bellevue Public Schools system.
Enfield said she will finish out the school year in Seattle, but says Highline is simply a better fit.
"I made that decision that were both personal and professional, but I did make the deliberate decsion to stay in the region. It's a place that I've wanted to be, and also go to a smaller district," said Enfield. "I just felt that the fit between the staff I've met, the board and community, felt right. And I just felt that this was a community that I felt we could be in for a long time."
She said she was sold on the job last Friday, when she visited the high school.
"They shared with me their hopes, their dreams, what they wanted in their leader, what they want from their school system," said Enfield. "I went home and called my husband and said, this is it."
The board is expected to vote at its meeting Wednesday evening to formally approve Enfield for the job. Her first day on the job would be July 1.
A KING 5 News poll released last week found that Enfield had a higher public approval rating (47 percent) than Mayor Mike McGinn or the City Council.
KING 5's Jake Whittenberg contributed to this report.