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    Chukundi Salisbury

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    Letter of Interest

    A photo of Chukundi SalisburyI would like to formally express my letter of intent for the District 7 Appointment to the Seattle Public Schools Board. I have lived in District 7 for the past 30 years and currently have a student at Shore Shore K-8. My service and career as a contributing member to the community of Seattle and greater King County, specifically the 7th District, spans more than three decades of dedicated presence, participation, and duty. A lifelong environmentalist, communicator and community representative, I have demonstrated my forthright commitment by building consensus, devising plans and following through with programs to deliver results.

    As a volunteer with various organizations and causes, an honored public servant with the City of Seattle (since 1997) and an internationally recognized and sought-after entrepreneur and business executive, I am uniquely capable of and determined to impactful to the students and families of the 7th district and our city as a whole.

    Resume or Related Experience

    As my day job, I currently serve as the Environmental Education and Engagement Manager for Seattle Parks and Recreation. All Environmental Education programmatic curriculum and implementation is directed by members of my staff.

    During my time at Parks, I have also served as the director of Camp Long where I oversaw the installation of the Low Ropes course and other experiential learning programs along with the environmental education programs.

    I also serve as a volunteer in the following roles:

    • Board of the YMCA of Greater Seattle's Camping Services Branch
    • Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project (Real Change Newspaper)
    • 37th District Precinct Committee Officer
    • Director of Social Action for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Epsilon Epsilon Sigma Chapter
    • King Street Arts Advisory Board (Seattle Arts & Culture)

    My past roles specifically in District 7 include but are not limited to:

    • President of the Board of Directors, South East Youth and Family Services.
    • 37th District Democrats Executive Board
    • King County Democrats representative and delegate to State Democratic Convention.
    • Seattle Police Department African American Advisory

    Candidate Salisbury Questionnaire Responses

    On July 16, candidates were asked to provide responses to five School Board-selected questions and asked to select three questions submitted by community members in a recent survey. Read the submitted questions from the community.

     

    Board-selected questions and candidate responses:

    1. What is your connection to the Southeast Seattle District VII community, schools, families, and students? How do you foresee growing or expanding on those connections and relationships in your role as a school board director?

    I am a Seattleite who grew up in the Central Area and attended Seattle public schools at Leschi, Summit K-12, and Garfield. I have resided in District 7 for nearly 23 years and in that time, I have been at the intersection of community, schools, and families in a variety of positions and via many activities. I am a networker, problem solver, and thought leader by nature and I have developed connections and relationships across the district and the city. I plan on using my proven track record of not only being able to conceptualize, but to implement and sustain. I believe this will be important in building trust with my fellow School Board Directors, and those in the community who I have not met yet.

    Specifically, I foresee using my position as a Director to convene community in a visual, authentic way as to engage, educate, and empower my fellow parents.

    As a Community Volunteer, I have served as a board member and board president at South East Youth and Family Services where I helped to shape programs that supported the health of families and students in Southeast Seattle. I have also been a volunteer with the South Shore school PTSA where I helped to launch the schools highly successful auction. As a member of the “Mo Hundred”, I was part of the planning group that launched the highly successful National African American Parent Involvement Day in 2016 that later led to the proclamation issued by the SPS Board in 2017 recognizing our efforts and Southshore School. I have supported justice and equity for the community of our district as a volunteer and board member of Mothers for Police Accountability and the African American Advisory to the Seattle Police Department. I have led community engagement efforts thru my volunteer service as a Precinct Committee Officer in the 37th District (SEA 37-1636). In this position I have encouraged my neighbors to become engaged in the political process and the local elections that effect our district. In addition to serving my precinct, I served on the 37th District Executive Board, the King County Democrats Executive Board and as our representative to the Washington State Democratic Convention. As the Founder and Executive Director of 100 Black Parents, I have been engaging students in our district and beyond via activities and events such as the African American Males Weekend at Camp Orkila, The African American Females Weekend at Camp Colman and Bubblin Brown Sugar (A High School Dance Team Competition). As a board member for the YMCA of Greater Seattle’s Camping and Outdoor Leadership branch, I have helped to marshal resources and opportunity for the students of District 7 through Earth Service Corps, YMCA Bold and Gold, and summer camp opportunities. As a nationally recognized Disc Jockey and Entertainer, I have performed at events at every High School and most Middle Schools in our District over the past 25 years. This has allowed me to develop multilateral relationships with staff over the years. I have been invited to speak many times across our district including serving as the Keynote Speaker at MLK Day assemblies at Cleveland High School. I have also volunteered with many organizations that have served the families our district including the Technology Access Foundation (TAF), The Union Gospel Mission, Emerald City Outreach, and more. In 2009 I organized the All City Teen Dance which celebrated the accomplishments of High School students. The only way to access this free event was to be sponsored by a teacher or non-family youth worker. I also organized community-based screenings of the Movies Selma and Red Tails.

    As a professional, I have served the families of Southeast Seattle during my 22 years at Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), my work at the Student Conservation Association, and at Parents for Student Success. At SPR I have developed and/or maintained community partnerships with many organizations that serve the families of our district including Seattle Goodwill, Consejo Counseling, Atlantic Street, and Seattle Tilth. While serving as the Trails Coordinator, I have been engaged in conversations and action in around Neighborhood Greenways and Safe Routes to school. As the former director of Camp Long (West Seattle) and the current Manager of the Environmental Sustainability, Education and Engagement Unit, I help to shape policy, programs, and services that engage the youth and families of our district and the entire city. In partnership with Island Experiential Environmental Education center, I developed a curriculum, “Forestry U”, which has been used by educators and youth workers across the city, including Seward Park. I also currently manage the Urban Food Systems Program at SPR where via community partners such as Seattle Tilth, City Fruit, and Forterra, I am actively working towards equity in our environment. I created and currently manage the Youth Green Corps which is an employment training program that is providing a truth pathway into green jobs with the City of Seattle. There have been many students from our district who have benefited from my work in this area. In 2019 every member of our program went on to employment with City of Seattle and is currently working now. Overall, my work is driven by a desire for Healthy environments for all; Jobs, local economies & youth pathways; Equity in city environmental programs and creating an environmental narrative thru community leadership. While working with Parents for Students Success, I facilitated many trainings and parent engagement sessions across our district. I also worked as a liaison with other community-based organizations such as Powerful Schools.

    As a Parent I have always been known by building staff as engaged and informed. I have been a resource as well by volunteering in the classroom and making myself available on Field Trips. I have been hands on and encouraged others to be so as well. My son currently attends Southshore School where he maintains a 3.94 GPA

    2. What is your understanding of the role of school board director? How do you foresee working with your fellow directors, the superintendent, staff, and the public?

    My understanding is that we are entrusted with the governance of our District. It is our role to ensure that the District is responsive to the values, beliefs, and priorities of the community. I foresee myself working collaboratively with my fellow Directors and the Superintendent to ensure the best outcomes for our students citywide, however keeping an acute focus on the needs of District 7. I foresee listening to the staff and treating them like the content experts that they are and giving them a direct voice for ideas, suggestions, and concerns. I foresee myself as being available and engaged with the public while providing balance between the loudest voices in the room and those farthest from equity.

    3. How do you think Seattle Public Schools is doing? Do you support the district’s recently adopted strategic plan — why or why not? What does focusing on students that are the furthest from educational justice mean to you? Read the district's strategic plan.

    I attended the plan presentation that was held at the New Holly earlier this year and I support the concept and goals of the plan. I have concerns around the resources and tools that will be needed to hold ourselves accountable. The “Theory of Action” is sound but as I visit schools in our district and across the city, I question if we are truly allocating resources through a racial equity framework. Focusing on students that are “the furthest from educational justice” means that we are recognizing the variety of factors inside and outside of the classroom that are inhibiting the education of the whole child.

    4. How does racism affect education in Seattle? What are your ideas for implementing School Board Policy No. 0030, Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity? Read Policy 0030.

    Institutional and overt racism continues to impact education in Seattle in a negative way. It is very clear when looking at the statistics from the district report card where the gap between black and brown students and others remains constant and massive in some cases. Students of color, specially, black and brown, continue to lag almost every measure of student performance including Graduation Rate, Student Performance, on Track for Graduation, and of course discipline and exclusion. These facts have been well publicized and is almost common knowledge. While all of that is very distressing, what I find is equally problematic, but much harder to quantify is that our minority children are far less likely to be identified as Gifted. Racial bias is cheating our district and community out of a generation of potential. Overall, my ideas around implementing Policy #0030 involve developing methods and tools for community accountability and engagement. The policy will only be effective if we are consistently checking decisions that are made against it. I would start by identifying places, programs, and recent decisions that illustrate what success looks like in each area. I think that each goal and policy recommendation should include real-time examples of where we are doing well and where there is potential for growth. With clear examples we can form finite community driven assessment teams to work in collaboration with existing bodies such as the PTSA to ensure that the policy is being implemented on a site by site basis. On a macro level, I am interested in developing community-based partnerships with organizations and even individuals who have a history of moving the needle and have real traction in their work. I would like to work towards removing real and perceived barriers that prevent collaboration. I am also very interested in working with employees on professional development that will be aligned with the needs of those who are furthest from educational justice. While I want see staff training that results in world class professionals, I also want that training to have an impact on the students and families who are currently in the building. Multiple Pathways to Success will also be a priority for me as I work to redefine what success looks like for our students. Workforce development will be high on my list and I will be working to communicate career opportunities, such as work-based learning and other initiatives, to youth and their families.

    5. What do you want to focus on as a school board director and why? How do you foresee doing that work within the constraints of the role (law, existing policy, budget, staff, and public expectations)?

    I would like to focus on Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity by working to implement Policy #0030. Specifically, I would like to focus on closing the many gaps between black and brown students and their counterparts and raise the overall achievement for all. As the father of a Black Male student currently enrolled in our system, I have a keen interest in their success. I would like to expand programs like the 9th grade report card conference that I organize at Garfield High School, to every High School. I would use my skills and experience to help raise parent and community volunteerism like I have at Garfield to scale this effort. As a director, I would also use my position to convene conversations with the trades and labor to have real conversations about getting our students on pathways to take advantage of the construction careers in our city. I see myself working in to explore how we can expand and promote career-connected learning opportunities and expand the narrative around success. I will also focus on community and district engagement that expands beyond the boundaries of a facility or program. I will lean heavily on the staff as the content experts when it comes to the budget, policy, and legal implications. I will be aware of my fiduciary responsibility and see myself taking steps to make sure I am engaged in the finances of the district. I see myself working to meet public expectations by providing a high level of transparency and communication around my decisions that will be made based upon their input, data, policy, and ultimately what I feel is right as a Director.

    My top 5 focus areas would be:

    1. Raising the percent of students who meet standards among those who are being left behind.
    2. Reducing the percent of students who are excluded due to behavioral violations.
    3. Working on Career-Connected Learning
    4. Increasing Community Based Partnerships with quantifiable results.
    5. Increasing parent/community engagement and participation that will lead to overall accountability.

     

    Community questions and candidate responses:

    What qualifies you to oversee a $1.5 billion budget on behalf of the public

    In my work at the City of Seattle fiscal responsibilities have been part of my work as a Supervisor and Project Manager. I have led Community Advisory Committees and multiple related programs inside and outside government. I currently manage a $1.5 Million budget as the Environmental Sustainability, Education, and Engagement Unit Manager at Seattle Parks and Recreation. Over the past 22 years, I have always been in a position that manages and monitors a budget. Additionally, as a current Board Member at the YMCA of Greater Seattle’s Camping and Outdoor Leadership Branch, Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project (Real Change Newspaper), and former Board Chair at Southeast Youth and Family Services, I am very familiar with the fiduciary responsibility of being a director. As a local Business owner for over 25 years, I have also managed my own budgets. I am very comfortable reading and reviewing financial reports and the tools that it takes to interpret the data such as spreadsheets and pivot tables. I have maintained a high level of fiscal accountability in government, nonprofit and for-profit work.

    If you are appointed, what will be your commitment and process for hearing from traditionally underrepresented constituents in district 7 who you will represent? Hosting regular forums? Visiting youth serving community-based organizations and schools??

    I plan on engaging our diverse district by using the power of place and meeting constituents where they are at. That means while providing the traditional means of communications/meetings, I will be open to non-traditional methods of communication and engagements as well. I will most certainly hold rotating community forums and meetings at a variety of times to accommodate the needs of parents and community who have traditionally been underrepresented. As a volunteer and community parent I have been doing this work for years. As a Project Manager with the City of Seattle, I have the experience and aptitude to create materials and communication strategies to engage community. I routinely visit youth serving community-based organizations and schools in my current professional and personal capacity and will continue to do so as a Director. I will also embrace technology that can help increase my reach.

    African American students are at the bottom of the achievement gap. Many policies and practices have failed to bring significant closure. What different should be done?

    I believe that community accountability and engagement is the key moving forward. As stated, there have been many policies that have been put in place, but I believe that their practice leaves much to be desired. I support the Strategic Plan, but we must hold our district and our community accountable for the putting those words into practice. Every decision from the classroom level to district wide, should be vetted through the lens of policy #0030. What I have found in working for Government and other large organizations is that often we do not follow our own plan. I would like to see the formation of a group perform a “Cultural & Racial” audit 4 times a year or more. We need to have a nearly real-time dashboard for African American Students and others who are not meeting standard. We cannot wait until, yet another failing report card comes home on our district with respect to African American Students. If African American Achievement was a student, we would be asking for a weekly progress report. We need the same for our district.