Acting Superintendent Brent Jones will be the next permanent head of Seattle Schools

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Acting Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Brent Jones will be the district’s next permanent leader, making him the district’s first black superintendent in more than two decades.

The school board voted 6-1 to approve Jones’ two-year contract at a special board meeting on Friday afternoon. Jones’ contract will run until June 30, 2024, and his annual base salary will be $335,000 plus benefits. Jones will also receive $700 per month for work-related travel.

“I’m very excited to continue the work we’ve done together toward student outcomes-focused governance and I’m sure our community is very excited for the consistency he will continue to bring to the district,” said the Chairman of the Board, Brandon Hersey.

Board member Leslie Harris, the only one to vote “no,” did not explain why she rejected Jones’ contract. She has said in previous meetings that she respects Jones, but doesn’t think the research process involved enough community input.

Jones, a graduate of Franklin High School, was named acting superintendent by the board last year after Denise Juneau resigned two months before her contract expired, due to a strained relationship with the school board over the pandemic management.

Jones makes more money than his last two predecessors. Juneau (2018-2021) earned $295,000 per year and Larry Nyland (2014-2018) earned $301,883 per year.

Over the past 10 years, the district has had six superintendents, which is why many will look to Jones for steady leadership. Rarely does a Seattle superintendent last more than a few years. Joseph Olchefske was the last ruler to reach five years – he served as 1998 to 2003.

Last month, the school board zeroed in on Jones as the sole candidate after support from three city leaders, including Mayor Bruce Harrell, and the community. The board voted to negotiate Jones’ contract last week, halting the national search that was underway.

Some have criticized the council’s search process for being too quick and lacking in community input. Board members acknowledged the process had been cut short, but all showed an outpouring of support and confidence in Jones’ ability to lead the district.

Jones’ familiarity with the community is another reason supporters said he was the right fit for the job. His family has lived in Seattle for generations, and he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington.

He then moved to Texas where he earned his doctorate in instructional leadership from the University of Texas at Austin. Jones began her career in adult education in 1993 and later held various management and human resource positions at community colleges in Texas and Washington. He later served as head of human resources at Seattle Colleges and talent agent for the Kent School District.

Before leaving Seattle Schools in 2019 to work for King County Metro, Jones held various leadership positions in the district beginning in 2008. He served as the district’s Chief Human Resources Officer and most recently as District Director of Equity, Partnerships and Engagement.

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