July 2023

Welcome to Foundations, an e-newsletter focused on keeping our community updated on how their tax dollars are supporting student learning and achievement, while keeping our school buildings modernized and maintained.

Voter approved funding allows us to provide the quality education our community expects for our children, which goes beyond the minimum funded by the state.

We'll highlight past, present, and future construction projects in the district and explain how they're being funded. We'll also talk directly to our Capital Planning and Technology teams involved in facilitating the projects that positively impact our students, as well as the people that witness the effectiveness of their efforts on a daily basis. We will also highlight programs and staff positions funded by our community. Follow along in the spirit of learning every month for a new edition.

Let's dive in!

Breakdown of School Funding

First, it's important to have an understanding of where the money comes from that funds our daily operations in order to have a clearer picture of where bonds and levies fit into this framework. Here's a simple breakdown:

  • Washington State - 70%
  • Federal Government and Other - 15%
  • Local - 15%

Local funding is where bonds and levies come into play. There is a gap between what the state funds and the education Kent School District provides to students. There's a surprising number of items the state does not fully fund. Levy dollars support basic general classroom and operational needs such as special education and curriculum, along with enrichment programs like athletics, arts, and music. Levies also fund our student 1:1 technology program and classroom learning technology and infrastructure. Another component of levy funding is priority maintenance and building modernization projects which are critically needed but are not large enough to efficiently fund via a bond. Levy projects can be modified to accommodate evolving needs and priorities.  

Bonds are funded differently. Kind of like a house mortgage, bonds are sold and then paid off for the next 20 years or so. With a bond, a larger amount of funding is available upfront to be able to build schools or complete larger projects. Bond dollars cannot be used for classroom operations or teacher salaries. Any changes to the project list must be approved by the school board.

Local funding bridges the gap between what the federal and state government provides and what is needed to successfully provide opportunities for students to achieve their highest goals.

This was a very broad overview of this complicated topic, so please visit these links for more detailed information:

Bonds vs. Levies: What's the Difference?

Growing Education: What's the Difference Between a Levy and a Bond?

Bonds and levies are the seeds of funding that allow our district to operate and carry out our mission of successfully preparing all students for their futures. However, it's important to note there are differences between the two in how they can be used in terms of time and scope, as well as how they're funded. Here's a helpful visual presentation of some key differences between the two.

Project Highlight:

Canyon Ridge Middle School

With that initial information, we can turn our focus to an excellent example of how local funding from bonds and levies can and does heavily impact our district's students. There's no better example of this than Canyon Ridge Middle School, which is currently finishing renovations to welcome students for the 2023-2024 school year.

On October 12, 2022, the Kent School District Board of Directors received a recommendation from the Middle School Model Committee comprised of parents, staff, and community members for a sixth, seventh, and eighth grade middle school model. The school board approved this resolution, and the district is moving forward with implementation to begin in the 2023-2024 school year.

To achieve this goal, the former Sequoia Middle School is being renovated to provide space for the new middle school model.

Here are some fast facts about this massive undertaking:

  • Building renovation for Canyon Ridge Middle School was approved on October 26, 2022
  • Project work officially began on November 10, 2022
  • The building renovation is being completely funded by the Capital Levy approved in 2018
  • Expected date of completion of building interior is August 1, 2023
  • Renovating the existing building has saved the district millions of dollars compared to constructing an entirely new building

Click here to learn more about the new middle school model and how this project is being funded by the 2018 Capital Levy contingency funds.

Click here for a list of critical repair & construction projects being funded with bond and levy dollars.

Click here for more photos of the Canyon Ridge renovation!

What I Love About My Building:

Amanda Barrabas

Here at Foundations, we want to move through KSD and get to know the real people that are impacted by local funding on a daily basis. What I Love About My Building will be a recurring segment highlighting our hard-working staff and students, getting to know them on a more personal level.

Amanda Barrabas is the head custodian of Canyon Ridge Middle School, and actually attended school in the building when it was still Sequoia Middle School. We asked her some questions about her experience at Sequoia and about watching the building transform a little more everyday.

Tell me about your experience of attending Sequoia Junior High in this building.

I was a shy kid and was nervous for this unknown place, at the same time going from one teacher to six! I remember it being so big and busy. With all of the changes going on here, to breathe new life into Canyon Ridge it feels that way again, very busy and exciting.

What has the transformation of the building been like for you?

The transformation is incredible! It's bittersweet for me seeing it changing from my old stomping grounds into this beautifully updated facility. Everything is new but I still feel the echoes of Sequoia walking around in the halls.

Do you have a particularly good memory of the building when you attended Sequoia?

The dances that were held in the cafeteria! There was always a backdrop set up in the hallway outside of the cafeteria where kids could get their pictures taken. I still have my Polaroids from those days.

What do you think is most important about the spaces students occupy in order to facilitate learning and personal growth?

The most important thing is that the spaces are safe, clean and functional. Being a mother, I want my kids to be in spaces that allow them to be happy and productive.

How do you think the renovations to this building will impact student learning?

I think the renovations will positively impact student academics and morale. I believe it'll bring pride to students as it does within myself. This will be their home away from home, and when you feel pride in your surroundings it makes you strive for excellence.

What are you most looking forward to with the grand opening of Canyon Ridge?

To meet and work with the staff and students and create lasting relationships with the community. I'm excited to have more noise around here too! It can be very quiet at times. I feel like I'm a big part of this place and can't wait to celebrate all our hard work and dedication that went into Canyon Ridge on the first day of school!

New Canyon Ridge Middle School artwork by Tom Bogle.

More Useful Links:

Do you have a student or staff member that should be featured in Foundations?

Let us know at [email protected]

Click here to contact us. Visit the KSD website here.

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