Thank You Bellevue Voters!

Election results are in, and I greatly appreciate your support! It has been a good four years, and I believe we can accomplish just as much in the next four years. I’m grateful that you have given me a chance to serve the Bellevue community for another term. Thank you!


 

Every Student, Every Classroom, Every Day
CheckmarkEndorsed by the Seattle Times: “Strengths: Thoughtful, data-driven, and has a record of tackling tough projects.” Read the editorial

My goal is to ensure that Bellevue’s legacy as a strong, visionary district continues into the twenty-first century. My priorities for the next four years are (1) deepening efforts to help each and every student succeed, (2) raising professionalism of board operations, including maximizing openness and accountability, and (3) fully leveraging the incredible diversity of our Bellevue community.

It has been a great honor to serve on the Bellevue School Board since 2011 and an honor to be elected by other board members to serve as board President. Schools are the cornerstone of our community. I ask for your vote and for the opportunity to continue this important work.

What a Change from 2011

Bellevue has always been a strong district, but back in 2011 teachers had overwhelmingly voted “no confidence” in the superintendent. More than 40 bargaining sessions were needed to ratify a teacher contract, and the contract wasn’t finalized until the week before school started. Important groups of students and parents in our district were being ignored, even entire schools were ignored for years at a time. The board itself appeared to lack direction and focus. Kids were not being served as they should have been, and Bellevue’s legacy as a leading district was at risk.

In 2011 I ran a campaign that promised to bring improved balance and leadership to the Bellevue School Board. I wanted Bellevue to stand as a lighthouse district into the twenty-first century. After being elected, I went to work right away.

Policy Work

District policies were woefully inadequate, with many policies that were out of date by 10-20 years or longer. Staff was not following these out-of-date policies (legally, they couldn’t, in many cases), and parents did not have a basis for understanding how the district intended to operate. I led an end-to-end policy update project that brought our district into legal compliance while also clarifying to the community how our district is supposed to function.

Open Government

I was concerned about the board spending too much time in closed sessions. As Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” I worked to improve the board’s compliance with Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act. Today, secret Executive Sessions are rare — and they are used only when fully legally justified.

New Superintendent

Shortly after I joined the board, we conducted an open, public search for a new superintendent. We carefully and actively involved the community in the search. That community input helped us find an excellent leader for our district in Dr. Tim Mills. Dr. Mills brought a new era of collaboration to district administration, teachers, other staff, parents, students, volunteers, the business community, and the community at large. Our most recent teacher contract required only a half dozen bargaining sessions, and the contract was ratified several months before the beginning of the school year.

Improved Governance

The board has substantially improved its governance of the district, including an increased focus on student performance data. The board now operates according to an annual calendar that ensures we review student performance data in all major subjects every year, that we review every school in the district twice every three years, and that we examine data annually about how well the district is serving its important stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, and other staff.

Leadership and the Future

I am pleased to have been able to provide leadership during this period, serving one year as Vice President of the board and two years as President.

Despite many accomplishments, the board has not reached a place where we can rest on our accomplishments. Community engagement is better than it was in 2011, but it is not yet inclusive of all students and all families. The district’s focus on student performance data has improved, but we need more work to engrain that data-focus permanently into our district practices. Our district has increased focus on special education, but we are still short of providing excellent support for every student, every classroom, every day.

We have had a constructive four years. I ask for your vote to complete the work that we have begun and ensure that our district serves every student to his or her full potential.

Sincerely,


Steve McConnell

“An award-winning author and successful business leader, Steve has become an influential figure in the nation’s advanced education landscape, where his ideas and opinions are constantly cited in formal academic circles at the undergraduate and graduate levels. If Steve’s influence in advanced academic circles is indicative of his effectiveness at the local school board level, I am confident that he will make his mark as well.”

– Dr. J. Fernando Naveda, Professor of Software Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology

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