Kent School District  | December 17, 2018
Dear KSD Community,

A few years ago, I attended a session on arts in Ridgefield School District. The superintendent was building a community-wide arts culture and asked community members if they thought arts are part of a well-rounded education for K-12 students. Almost 90 percent of the surveyed community members strongly agreed.

When coming on board, the superintendent stated that Ridgefield did not have any arts program for K-6 students. He tried to find free or low-cost opportunities by leveraging existing community assets. Partnering with businesses, he began a “Ridgefield Youth Arts Month” in March. The district received in-kind and other donations to fund programs without touching the general fund. Young people were encouraged to take part in artistic endeavors including literary, visual, musical and performing arts. The superintendent had the staff say ‘yes’ from the start and made certain that the arts month happened with all the promised programming.

In addition to businesses, the district began to work with the county arts commissioner and city officials to plan the arts month. The district gave art businesses space in the classroom and brought in artists to offer free classes to elementary students. Teachers who did not have experience with arts gladly accepted help from guest lecturers who came in to help. The superintendent got the city government and mayor to do an arts month proclamation and board resolution for all arts initiatives. Invites were sent to all city leaders to save the date for performances at the end of the month.

The arts month had to be a win-win with businesses; businesses needed to see a return on investment – so the district made certain to promote their logo and other promotional materials. The district did not ask the same businesses for donations but was selective in the process and did a “business partner of the year award.” For the award, the district made certain to not select the biggest company or the one that donated the most amount of money; rather, they asked the question, “within their level of capability, who has made a herculean effort to assist?”

Finally, the district regularly fed local newspapers information about events surrounding arts. A commitment statement was prepared on the arts that the district is committed to K-12 fine and performing arts. This statement was made during convocation while the mayor and council members were in attendance.

Many great arts programs are happening around the Kent School District. Can we envision such collaborative and unified momentum in our district? Let us know what you think! Please continue to stay in touch and let us know how we are doing. Our contact information is at the following link . Warm holiday wishes to all of you.
On behalf of the Kent School District Board of Directors,

Maya Vengadasalam
President, Board of Directors
Kent School District
Update from Legislative Representative Ross Hardy
As we finally are preparing for the upcoming 2019 Washington State Legislative Session, I want to share some of our public education-focused groups that have already established their Legislative Priorities.

WSSDA (Washington State School Directors' Association) has  set theirs .
The Washington State Board of Education has  recommended reforms  based on statewide indicators of educational system health.
The Washington State PTA has also established a  2019 Legislative Platform .

These resources are for you to look over and seek alignment. As I mentioned in the last Board Meeting, we can best represent the Kent School District by working with other organizations as the 2019 legislative sessions opens next year.

Reach out with those that you feel are most important to us.

Ross Hardy
Legislative Representative, Board of Directors
Kent School District
Update from Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts
As the calendar year comes to an end, the school year continues to bring many opportunities to celebrate student learning and achievements. Already this month I had the opportunity to meet with our 2018-19 Student Leadership Advisory. Our Kent School District Student Leadership Advisory is a two-year student leadership program that provides opportunities for high school juniors and seniors in KSD to develop personal and organizational leadership skills and an awareness of community issues. Each month this group of students are given the chance to use their student voice and discuss concerns, present ideas, and advise me on how he can help improve the school district. The mission of SLA is to develop student leaders who embrace the function of leadership throughout their school and district by shaping culture and performance. I look forward to engaging with this group of highly motivated, energetic and thoughtful student leaders each month.

On Thursday, December 6, 2018 I was honored to attend the Schools of Distinction Awards Ceremony to celebrate Millennium Elementary for continued academic growth and improvement over time as measured by standardized assessments over a period of five (5) years. I commend our students, staff, and families for their commitment to excellence. I appreciated the opportunity to share in this honor with Principal, Tracie Watson and her staff, DeNelle West, Israel Vela, as well as President Maya Vengadasalam and Director Denise Daniels. Earlier in the week, Principal, Tracie Watson accompanied me as I visited with our Millennium teachers, paraeducators, office managers, nutrition services staff and our students. We observed high quality teaching and learning throughout our walk-through's. The care and concern for our children was most evident within this brief "snapshot" in time. My visit left little doubt as to why Millennium Elementary is a wonderful place to learn, teach and support those who teach. I sincerely congratulated each individual with whom I came in contact for helping to create a teaching and learning environment worthy of a second School of Distinction Award. Congratulations, Millennium ES students, staff and families! We are #KSDproud!

Kind regards,
Dr. Calvin J. Watts
Getting to Know Your School Board Members
The past few weeks, Board members visited classrooms, attended community events, School of Distinction Awards, KSD College Access Partner Breakfast, and attended numerous plays and fundraisers supporting arts in schools. 
Denise attended the Thanksgiving community meal hosted at the Kent Phoenix Academy. Hundreds of families and community members came together to celebrate and share a meal. Thanks to the volunteers who donated food, time, and talents to bring this together!  Denise also attended Kentwood Choir's annual fundraiser performance and dinner, the Madrigal Feast. “Daisy Emans does an incredible job with her students, two of which have been my own!" she said. "Two sold out shows and a delicious dinner make for a very entertaining evening!”
Maya states that her travels to India and Thailand to address personal matters took a new twist in her once again finding joy for photography. After failing a photography class in high school, she gave up on her artistic pursuits. She states that the beauty of Asia is difficult to describe but a dream to capture in photos. 
The trip reinforced the notion that one does not have to be an expert to pursue their passion and interests.
“The arts are near and dear to my heart," Debbie said. "For ten years at Jenkins Creek Elementary, I had the honor of directing plays. The plays were sponsored by our PTSA. Practices were held after school and all students who wanted to participate were welcome. The plays that we did were musicals to involve as many children as possible. One year, we did the Nutcracker and had 145 students participate from grades K-6. The students also participated in helping with scenery as well as acted as our stage crew. I enjoyed seeing the students learn the basics of theater including stage presence and how to project their voices. Along with singing, we also incorporated dance. I hope that someday my schedule will allow me to have the opportunity to do this again. Music, dance and theater are wonderful ways for even our youngest students to express themselves.

Karen states, "I've had the absolute pleasure of attending two of our high school drama performances in the last month: Kent-Meridian's "Love/Sick" and Kentridge's "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." Both productions did not disappoint! Actors knew their characters well and carried them off beautifully. Congratulations to the hard work of the students and their directors, KM's Jay Thornton, KR's Jennifer Grajewski, and KR's vocal director, Catherine Robinson! I encourage all who haven't attended our four high schools' drama productions to watch for and make a commitment to experience the round of shows in the spring."

During the month, Ross has spent a lot of time working with the other groups in the community. He is ramping up the time spent leading the product program efforts for our local Girl Scout Service Unit, celebrating the hard work of foster families in South King county, and attended a Seattle Thunderbirds game courtesy of DCYF. A recent highlight was the Muckleshoot Winter Powwow and Fostering Together holiday event. These inclusive communities in our region provide for an enhanced quality of life for KSD families.
Recent Board Meeting Highlights
Board meeting agendas, minutes, and policies are accessible through the BoardDocs Site . Regular meetings of the school board are held in the boardroom of the administration center located at 12033 SE 256th Street, Kent, at 7:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Following are a few topics we addressed at recent work sessions.

  • Board met with Superintendent Watts and the Executive Cabinet to review and finalize the performance management/forensic audit and financial audit scope of work. The district will place a Request for Proposal for independent professionals to address the scope of work; and the Board will receive and review the proposals.
  • In order to build trust with our stakeholders and attend to our fiscal recovery plan, the Board met with community members who reviewed and selected applicants for the new Board-approved Fiscal Recovery Task Force, from which the members will serve as advisors to the Board. To address diversity and equity, the Board is extending the application deadline for the Fiscal Recovery Task Force to obtain a wider pool of candidates. The Board is encouraging students and staff to submit applications to ensure all voices are represented. Students who have interest in finance and accounting are strongly encouraged to join the task force – we are still looking for two students. The action plan and application are available on the district website linked here.
  • Board continues to prioritize our core six series of policies and procedures and specifically focused on finalizing our purchasing and bidding series.
  • Board met to monitor and review our communications, and discussed our upcoming January community conversations around the district. Please find our Board goals and communication page located here.  
Upcoming School Board Events
You're Invited to Board Community Conversations in January
Students, families, and community members are invited to join members of our school board at libraries across our district to engage in meaningful two-way conversation.
January 2: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
January 9: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
January 9: Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
January 16: Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
January 24: Board Community Conversation 6:00 - 8:00 pm KM Library
January 24: Board Community Conversation 6:00 - 8:00 pm KR Library
January 26: Board Community Conversation 10:00 am - 12:00 pm Kent Public Library

Board meeting agendas, minutes, and policies are accessible through the BoardDocs Site .