Kent School District  | October 19, 2018
Dear KSD Community,

Happy October to all of you. We hope you are having a great start of the new school year. 

As general election voting day approaches, districts across our state are getting ready for the next legislative session. While the McCleary decision may seem to have addressed solutions in parts of Washington State, many unresolved issues remain. Chief among them are support services for our most vulnerable students in Inclusive Education, also referred to as Special Education (SPED); students who are in need of trauma-informed practices and social emotional learning (SEL); and comprehensive safety services (CSS) in our schools.

Attending our professional Board association (WSSDA) legislative assembly made it very clear that work on the above issues cannot be accomplished without the genuine desire and effort to partner with our community organizations, family/staff community, and the business community. We pledge to make these issues a priority for us in advocating for our most vulnerable students this upcoming legislative session.

Please stay in touch and let us know how we are doing. You can always reach us individually or collectively; our contact information is at the following web page: https://www.kent.k12.wa.us/Page/593 . Warm wishes to all of you.

On behalf of the Kent School District Board of Directors,



Maya Vengadasalam
President, Board of Directors
Kent School District
October 10, 2018 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 the October 10 Board meeting:

Work Session on the Board Communication Plan
Work Session on the Budget Amendment AND Bond Renewal
Budget enrollment presentation
Proclamations and Recognitions
  • National Bullying Prevention Month
  • National School Lunch Week (October 1519)
  • National Principals Month
  • Filipino American History Month
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15)
Ryan Simpson, Northwood Middle School Leadership, Family and Consumer Sciences, & Art Teacher, accepts the National Bullying Prevention Month proclamation.
Jim Schiechl, Mattson Middle School Principal and KPA President, accepts the proclamation for National Principals Month at the October 10 board meeting.
Director of Nutrition Services Teresa Fields and Central Kitchen Team Member Andrew Dinsmore accept the proclamation for National School Lunch week.
Highlights from Community Conversations with the School Board
This past week, we provided three opportunities for you to join us at Community Conversations with School Board members. Additional Community Conversations will also be held in January, February, March, and May of 2019. Following are some of the highlighted questions and comments from the October sessions. Answers to the questions asked at each session are available on our board website .

  • Co-teaching model in elementary schools/ELL needs to be better communicated with additional supports and proper training
  • Staff need a better feedback loop with the district
  • iGrad updates and next steps communicated to staff members at iGrad
  • Concerns about overcrowded elementary schools. What is happening with boundary discussions?
  • The need for SEL and trauma-informed services in the earlier grades
  • Consistent expectations of student achievement across the district
  • Equitable funding based on needs. Money should follow the need
  • Technology use in elementary, student voice in use of technology
  • Curriculum review and curriculum teams
  • Special Education staffing
Update from Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts
October brings welcomed cool, crisp air in the morning, and the opportunity to appreciate our Kent School District Principals, to honor those who represent Hispanic and Filipino Heritage, and to be mindful of how we should treat others during National Bullying Prevention Month. October is also the season that most colorfully represents the transition to the Autumn season. While change can be threatening to some and exciting for others, I am certain that continuous improvement never occurs without change. This is our “why?”

As I walk through our classrooms during weekly school visits, I notice examples of improved quality instruction and improved student learning. In addition to collaborating with our Board of Directors in support of policy governance, effective district wide operations and accountability, my role as superintendent is to ensure that all students can learn content faster (based upon individual needs), retain it longer, and to be ready to excel in college, careers and life upon graduation.

I love public education and I fully accept the leadership challenges and opportunities presented to me as Superintendent. When I review our district wide data, I notice that we have much to celebrate; however, I also wonder about several areas that must change to improve outcomes for our students. Yes, it is true that 82% of our KSD members of the Class of 2018 fulfilled their graduation requirements. The harsh reality for some of our KSD students and families in that same class, is that 18% did not. So, “how” do we change our beliefs and practices?

Our first change in belief and practice must recognize that “all means all”—until 100% of our students are performing at or above grade level, we have not met our obligation to each family and student enrolled in our schools. Our second change in belief and practice must ensure that each adult must take the necessary time to establish a positive, productive relationship with each student. We must know our students, first as individuals with unique talents, skills and abilities, and then as learners with distinct passions, goals and aspirations. Our third change in belief and practice realizes that each one of our students will never continuously improve their performance, until we change our district wide instructional practices.

With this reality in mind, here is our “what?”. I am pleased to note that we will begin sharing a research and evidence-based instructional model that is grounded in the Continuous Improvement Cycle, also known as the “Plan > Do > Check > Act” Cycle. This model is already being implemented in a few KSD schools. I look forward to working alongside our Teaching and Learning Community as we introduce this model at an understandable pace to our entire district. I welcome change and I fully understand that change can be hard for some. Why? Because as humans, we tend to fully accept the status quo simply because “it is the way we’ve always done it.” Instead of admitting that achieving student success rates of 100% is impossible, however, I welcome the challenge to accomplish what has never occurred before in Kent School District to the benefit of all students. 

To accomplish the unthinkable, we must change the way we think about our students and their learning. When we change how we think about our students and their learning, we will change the way we act. Once we change how we act towards student and adult learning, we will approach our curriculum (what our learners should know and be able to do), our assessment (how well learners show what they know) and instruction (what adults do when learners already know or when they presently struggle to learn) with an increased sense of urgency. In fact, our change in thinking on how we address this learning challenge can best be explained by one of the most complex thinkers of our time, Albert Einstein, who once said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
 
Kind regards,
Dr. Calvin J. Watts
Superintendent
Getting to Know Your School Board Members
The past few weeks, Board members visited classrooms, attended sports events, mentored students, held community conversations with the public, and supported the annual fundraisers for the Kent Food Bank and PICC. 
Maya visiting Mr. Harper’s classroom and touring Pine Tree Elementary.
Ross with one of his two PICC graduates before their annual fundraiser walk.
In addition, we all are avid learners and welcome interesting topics to ponder. Following are a few of our recommended reads:

  • Director Daniels just finished reading The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas - It follows events in the life of a 16-year-old African-American girl, who is drawn to activism after she witnesses the police shooting of a childhood friend. Told from a kid’s perspective, the story deals with the imposter syndrome and so many other struggles faced by kids of color.
  • Director DeBruler, who is a Communities in Schools of Kent mentor, said the time she spends mentoring three students brings all of us great rewards. Helping them navigate their educations and life in general empowers them to be successful and to believe in themselves. Please consider giving an hour weekly to a much deserving student!
  • Director Hardy recently finished reading State Superintendent Reykdal’s proposed budget and enrichment levy plan comparison. As this directly affects our district, please take time to understand how our state elected officials are changing things around.
  • Director Straus recommends The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr Edith Eva Eger, a Holocaust survivor. Dr. Eger talks about healing and a quote that resonates is: "Instead of blaming others, take responsibility for your own actions and speech. Before you say or do something, ask, Is it kind? Is it important? Does it help?"
  • Director Vengadasalam recently came across an article in The Atlantic on Berea College in Kentucky, the college where no student has paid tuition in 126 years. As higher education costs rise, this is a fascinating look at endowments, history, perseverance, and commitment to the mission.
Upcoming School Board Events
October 24: Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
October 24: Board Work Session – Amended Budget Presentation
November 7: Board Work Session
November 14: Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
November 14: Board Work Session
Board meeting agendas, minutes, and policies are accessible through the BoardDocs Site .