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Originally published October 15, 2009 at 3:09 PM | Page modified October 15, 2009 at 5:16 PM

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Smith-Blum, Chin and DeBell for Seattle School Board

The Times endorses Seattle School Board candidates Kay Smith-Blum and Wilson Chin.

PROPOSED new boundaries mark Seattle Public Schools' return to a neighborhood-based system. The work of the School Board is to shape changes in a way that deepens family involvement in the schools and broadens access to quality academics and services. Two newcomers would add thoughtfulness and fresh voice going forward.

Kay Smith-Blum is the clear choice to represent Seattle's Central Area. A parent and co-owner of Butch Blum, a downtown clothing store, Smith-Blum's refreshingly high level of energy is matched by a track record raising money for educational enrichment, such as marching-band programs and greenhouse initiatives. She gets the values and goals of public education. For example, Smith-Blum emphasizes kindergarten readiness by underscoring the need to strengthen and expand early-learning opportunities.

Smith-Blum favors public-private partnerships as a way to broaden and deepen community support of the schools, making her voice critical on a board that has often struggled to balance outside efforts from the business community and educational nonprofits.

Mary Bass doesn't deserve a third term. After eight years on the board, the challenges of her district remain high. Most telling, Bass received her lowest rating so far from the Municipal League of King County — an "adequate," down from "good" four years ago and "very good" eight years ago. By comparison, Smith-Blum got the league's highest rating.

Wilson Chin is best suited to represent South Seattle. He is a University of Washington researcher on HIV vaccines and a tireless volunteer on school-leadership teams and staff-interview committees. As we noted in our primary endorsement of Chin, he knows a lot about the schools attended by his four kids and is slowly developing a knowledge base about the rest of the district.

Chin makes up for this lack of broader knowledge with a smart, consensus-building approach that will add value to a board often faced with contentious issues and parents. Betty Patu knows less about the district than Chin and it has shown in the months of her lackluster campaign for the board.

Incumbent Michael DeBell is unopposed in his bid for another term.

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