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Originally published Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:51 AM

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Interim Seattle schools superintendent sets priorities

Susan Enfield, interim superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, announced her top priorities for the rest of the school year Friday, along with a list of opportunities for parents, teachers, principals, students and others in the community to share their views and concerns with her.

Seattle Times education reporter

Enfield's entry plan

Susan Enfield's full statement of priorities: district.seattleschools.org

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Susan Enfield, interim superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, announced her top priorities for the rest of the school year Friday, along with a list of opportunities for parents, teachers, principals, students and others in the community to share their views and concerns with her.

Enfield, now in her fourth week in the school district's top job, said she will report what she's learned from all those groups by early May, and how their perspectives might be incorporated into the district's plans.

At the same time, Enfield said, she intends to continue the five-year plan crafted under her predecessor and former boss, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, "although with an eye to making adjustments in light of budget constraints."

"Before taking on significant new initiatives," she said, "we want to closely examine the current work under way and make sure we're doing it well."

The Seattle School Board dismissed Goodloe-Johnson earlier this month — along with Don Kennedy, chief financial and operations officer after state auditors found $1.8 million of questionable expenditures in the district's small-business contracting program.

Enfield kicked off her public outreach effort this week, holding the first "office hours" she has scheduled for Thursday afternoons. All the 15-minute time slots are already booked through June, but Enfield said she's looking at expanding them.

Next Tuesday, she'll be at Seattle's Central Library at 8 a.m. for the first "Coffee with the Superintendent," although that event is nearly full, too, and requires an RSVP to the Alliance for Education at 206-205-0324 or marlene@alliance4ed.org.

Enfield also plans to hold "Soup with the Supe" sessions in schools, to give teachers a chance to meet with her informally and will establish a teacher-advisory council that was in the planning stages under Goodloe-Johnson.

"One of my core beliefs," she wrote, "is that our system becomes stronger as we listen to and incorporate stakeholder voices in our plans."

Enfield's list of priorities for this school year reflects much of what was already under way in the district.

She plans, for example, to continue to use the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), which the teachers' union would like to see replaced with better tests.

"We're not going to abandon MAP," Enfield said. "I'm very clear about that."

But she did say that she and her staff will look at a number of concerns about MAP, including whether it should be given two times a year, rather than three.

She also plans to ensure that academic rigor is consistent between schools and from classroom-to-classroom within schools — an effort some teachers and parents worry will lead to a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

Enfield said Friday that she hopes she can ally those fears, saying her goal is to ensure that by the end of the year, every student should be ready for the next grade.

"I think there are some misunderstandings out there that I can address," she said.

Enfield also said she plans to reorganize finance, operations and teaching-and-learning departments in the district's central office, with a focus on "becoming a results-driven organization."

The district has to rethink how those departments work, in part, because it recently laid off about 90 people, she said. It also needs to strengthen its internal operations, she added, so that it doesn't have another problem like the small-business program.

The restructuring, she said, "represents the culture shift we're trying to make here.

"We have to make sure that we're structured smartly, not just to get the work done, but to get it done in a way that truly supports teaching and learning."

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