Seattle School Superintendent Jose Banda said it was a difficult decision, but in the end it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. After just two years at the helm of Seattle public schools, he is preparing to take the top job in Sacramento. A native Californian and one of seven siblings, Banda said Friday that it all came down to being closer to his family.
"During the time I was up here I lost my dad and I regret not having been there and spending more time with him. That was really the driving force for me," he said.
Banda was hired in Seattle to stabilize a school system scandalized by a lack of quality leadership. His main accomplishment during his short tenure was the passage of combined $1.2 billion capital and operations levies. He believes the district is on the right path and the next superintendent should follow it.
"For an incoming superintendent, I would hope they don't come in with their own agendas and reforms because there are some good things in place here," he said.
Mr. Banda's successor will be the fifth Seattle superintendent since the beloved John Stanford died 16 years ago. It leaves some parents wondering once again, where do we go from here?
"I'm shocked," said parent Espie Washington. She has three kids in Seattle schools and is a fan of Banda. She now worries, however, that the lack of continuity in leadership will start to take its toll in the classroom. "Sometimes somebody will put something in place, but there's no follow up. You don't know if the vision that he has is going to be followed," she said.
Many want to see the district hire a replacement from within, but school officials said they will likely do another national search. The last one took six months and cost $85,000. Seattle will appoint an interim superintendent before beginning the search for a permanent replacement.
Banda has not been officially been offered the Sacramento job, but no one else is currently being considered. School trustees from Sacramento will be in Seattle next week talking with teachers and school officials before finalizing their decision. Banda told reporters Friday that he wants the job so much he is taking a pay cut. He is expected to start in Sacramento on July 17.