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Originally published July 7, 2010 at 10:04 PM | Page modified July 8, 2010 at 8:55 AM

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Seattle school leader Goodloe-Johnson's contract extension approved 5-2

In a 5-2 decision, the Seattle School Board voted Wednesday to extend Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's contract by another year.

Seattle Times staff reporter

In a 5-2 decision, the Seattle School Board voted Wednesday night to extend Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's contract by another year.

It was a less than ringing endorsement for a leader who has faced growing criticism from parents and teachers.

School Board members Michael DeBell, Sherry Carr, Peter Maier, Steve Sundquist and Harium Martin-Morris voted in favor of the contract extension, while Kay Smith-Blum and Betty Patu voted against.

Smith-Blum said she'd heard from many in the community whom she felt were sincerely requesting a timeout from the district's current course. And she said she was particularly troubled by a state auditor's report, released Tuesday, that was sharply critical of the district.

The audit accused the district of misappropriating money or leaving public assets "susceptible to misappropriation" because of ineffective policies, failure to enforce its own rules and inadequately trained staff.

Maier countered that district enrollment has been increasing each year under the superintendent and academic rigor improving. He said Goodloe-Johnson is implementing difficult reforms that will take time to reap benefits.

DeBell, the board president, said he valued continuity during a time of systemic change.

"I've wrestled with this decision quite a bit, as my colleagues know," he said.

Goodloe-Johnson's contract, which would have expired in 2012, is now set to expire in 2013.

Parents and teachers have grown increasingly critical of the superintendent recently. At a union meeting last month, Seattle teachers recommended the board not extend Goodloe-Johnson's contract until she showed significant improvement in the way she worked with parents, teachers and members of the community. Teachers at about 10 Seattle schools have also taken no-confidence votes.

But Goodloe-Johnson was given a fairly positive evaluation last month by the board. She got her highest marks for the way she's managed the district's new student-assignment plan. However, the board also said Goodloe-Johnson needed to improve the way she interacts with the community.

At the meeting, some members of the public spoke out against extending the contract, citing complaints that ranged from school closures to Goodloe-Johnson's demeanor.

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Also Wednesday, the board approved a $567 million budget and voted to put a supplemental levy measure to voters in November. That follows the state Legislature's decision to increase how much schools can collect through levies.

The levy measure would collect an additional $48 million from property owners over three years. According to the district, it would cost the owner of a $400,000 home an additional $48 in taxes each year.

In her budget message, Goodloe-Johnson said the district was facing a $31 million budget shortfall, which would be addressed by reducing central-office staff by 85 positions, implementing a hiring and spending freeze, using some reserves and delaying spending on some instructional materials and staff development.

The extra levy funds, she said, "would contribute greatly to address our students' highest priority needs and help to prevent even deeper budget cuts for 2011-12."

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com

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