Kay Smith-Blum was elected to the Seattle School Board in 2009 with the promise of a being hard-nosed progressive—a reformer among a board that was, at the time, dominated by a bunch of Seattle Times lackeys who oversaw a multimillion dollar scandal and controversially shuttered South Seattle Schools—while using her business acumen and political skills to get things done. Smith-Blum beat incumbent Mary Bass, a progressive in her own right, who was nonetheless seen as somewhat ineffective. In the years since, Seattle Schools have tilted toward reformers and been relatively scandal-free.

But after that single term, Smith-Blum says she's ready to move on. "I simply have too much personally and businesswise to campaign this summer and I do not feel I can commit to the same level of focus for another 4 years," the co-owner of Butch Blum wrote in a letter to supporters and friends this morning.

And who can blame her?

Our anemic school district is held together with bubble gum and Popsicle sticks, and the board's low profile means that even high-profile fuck ups rarely get the scrutiny they deserve—or the scrutiny is applied years too late—and major advances in the district pass without a whisper. (WHY ANYONE WOULD WANT TO SERVE A SINGLE GODDAMN TERM ON THAT GODDAMN BOARD IS GODDAMN MYSTERY.)

Smith-Blum, who also recently withdrew her candidacy for the State Board of Education, has given blessing to Stephan Blanford as her successor. He will be running this fall and filed today. The seat on the Seattle School Board represents district 5, encompassing public schools in central Seattle. Smith-Blum's letter follows:

I am telling senior staff today that I will not be seeking reelection. There are multiple personal priorities that will simply disallow me from spending the time I believe necessary to fulfill my duties as a school board director for another 4 years. At the age of 61, I need to prioritize family and livelihood as I move toward retirement. I simply have too much personally and business wise to campaign this summer and I do not feel I can commit to the same level of focus for another 4 years.

I have been working quietly for several months to recruit a couple of stellar constituents in my district to run for my seat and am very pleased that Stephan Blanford is filing today. I am optimistic about the perspective he will bring to the board. I will support his candidacy in any way I can. I also plan to stay engaged in the education conversation, as I believe the highest priority our city, region and state should have is the education of our children.

My focus as a board director has been on equitable access to our best programs, restorative discipline, sustainable buildings and maintenance protocols (the Green Resolution passed 6-1!), a new approach to our budget and formulas for revenue distribution and - most importantly - elevating our teachers to the professional level of respect they deserve. Mastery, not test scores, should drive every conversation. Our focus should be on developing the best quality instructors and teacher leaders who will lead us and our students in acquiring the critical skill sets needed in this century to better our community.

In not having the distraction of a campaign, I will be able to focus on my Presidential duties, and the ever important boundary work, BEX implementation, budget development and program placement that will occur in the next 6 months. This work will set the educational frame for the next several decades. I am incredibly glad I have a seat at the table at this time and to have served on the Seattle School Board. I am also very thankful for all those who have given their time and energy to supporting my service and the numerous legislators, city councilmen, activists and community leaders who have indicated they would have supported me for another term.

Thanks for your service, KSB.