Kent School District  | April 19, 2019
Dear KSD Community,

In Marketing 101 we learn that brands are created by consumers and not the organization itself, and the core beliefs and values of an organization become our compass on how to run the organization. KSD has such a compass with our strategic plan that stresses the shared expectations for students, staff, classrooms, instruction, schools, and district offices.

Four years ago, Board members who served at the time, and Superintendent Watts worked on the “KSD Way” of achieving our vision of Equity, Excellence and Community in reaching the strategic goals of our plan. The following were the core beliefs and commitments we made to meet our shared expectations:

  • KSD Graduate Profile: KSD graduates are prepared to be college and career ready and responsible, contributing citizens. Successful KSD students engage and persist in learning; they actively seek help and demonstrate skills for their chosen professions.
  • KSD Schools: KSD schools offer a well-rounded, relevant, standards-based curriculum that serves the whole child. Effective KSD schools engage students to meet their diverse needs, and promote excellent teaching and parent involvement.
  • KSD Classrooms: Effective KSD classrooms are welcoming to all students, with caring teachers, joy and engagement in learning, and students all working to their potential.
  • KSD School/District Staff: Effective school/district staff members care deeply about students, make student-centric decisions, work with team members toward the common goal of high achievement for all, and instill a sense of hope and belief in students.
  • KSD Instruction: Quality instructional programs are rigorous and aligned to Washington State Learning Standards (WSLS), support individualization and group differentiation through teaching, coaching, and mixed resources, and offer career pathways beginning in middle schools.
  • KSD School/District Offices: Effective school and district offices support each other’s success, set a clear vision, and help all students succeed; they provide high impact resources and support transparent communication tied to clear expectations.

These beliefs rely on various Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to measure progress and performance over time. Choosing the right KPI is predicated on having a good understanding of what is important to our organization. Our district has a strategic planning committee that meets regularly to shepherd us through the process of prioritizing our KPI’s and ensuring whole system change. We thank them for their valuable time given to this most important task.

As always, please feel free to contact us with your thoughts.

On behalf of the Kent School District Board of Directors,

Maya Vengadasalam
President, Board of Directors
Kent School District
Legislative Update from Director Ross Hardy
Even though the 2019 regular legislative session is yet to conclude, our students’ health and safety have been clearly paramount during this session with three main bills already passed. Here are those highlights:
  • Social Emotional Learning (2SSB 5082) – This bill was adopted by the House on Wednesday (April 10th) with no additional changes made. It creates a permanent committee to promote and expand social emotional learning (SEL), requires OSPI to adopt SEL standards and align the programs it oversees with the standards and integrate where appropriate, and directs the PESB to incorporate SEL standards along the entire career continuum for teachers.
  • Children’s Mental Health (2SSB 5903) – This bill was adopted by the House on Friday (April 12th). The bill takes several steps to create a mental health support system starting in the early years. Most notably for K-12, the bill requires one of the professional learning days for teachers to focus on one or more social emotional learning topics as specified in the bill starting in the 2020-21 school year.
  • School District Anti-Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying Policies/Procedures (SSB 5689) – This bill was debated and adopted by the House on Tuesday (April 9th) with an amendment that clarifies the new requirement that districts review and update their policies/procedures regarding transgender students.
These new bills go to the core of our priorities as a district and are supported by our local legislators.

Ross Hardy
Legislative Representative, Board of Directors
Kent School District
Messages from Board Members Straus, Daniels, and Freeman
Message from Debbie :
My hope is that over Spring Break you were able to have some time with your family to connect. As I think back over the years and reflect with my children, we often reflect on things that we did together. They were not always big trips, but were little things like roasting marshmallows over candles when the power was out. What mattered was that we were together. We all tend to move so fast in the world today. Please take time to slow down and let your children know how much they mean to you. It is worth it.

Message from Denise:
April has always been one of my favorite months, as the weather begins to warm and spring is in full effect. I find a renewed energy as we purge, clean, and prepare for summer. As a parent, I also recall the need to begin summer plans for my children, as programs and camps fill up very quickly. We are fortunate to have many wonderful opportunities for our students to be a part of here in our area. Families, students, and schools are also getting ready for proms, graduations, and post-secondary transitions, which can be very exciting and stressful.

I consider myself blessed to have mentored several students over the last few years, and their stories are as unique as each of them. For some, this is a very scary time as they are not sure what is next, and school has been the only real stability in their lives. Many of our students won’t have the ability to participate in the upcoming activities due to financial hardship and see these upcoming times with trepidation instead of anticipation. Spring and summer breaks are not always a welcome relief for our students. So as we engage in conversations with them around what is next, be it for summer or after graduation, it is important to encourage and celebrate their journey and accomplishments thus far, as some might not yet have a definite destination.

“No longer will I accept the things I cannot change, I will change the things I cannot accept.”
~Angela Davis

Message from Austin :
Hello KSD community! I hope you all are enjoying April, and I know that many of my fellow students enjoyed Spring Break. I have had multiple opportunities to talk with several students from different high schools, as they have all had different concerns and priorities. However, one of the biggest issues that they have all been dealing with is academic stress. While Spring Break is a great time to take a break from the overwhelming stressors of school, it also is an example of the structure of school itself.

At a recent Board meeting in March, I had the ability to add a student's perspective on multiple issues including the adoption of the new student calendar, Core 24 requirements, and the approval of new courses. My friend told me she does not feel overwhelmed by the level of homework and pace of her classes, but more of the requirements. She told me that the new requirements for specific classes, such as students being required to take a physics course when it does not align with what they want to take, the school can feel burdensome. However, it is not just the classes themselves, but the commitments that students are also facing outside the classroom.  
This echoes what a student from Kentridge discussed with me, as she felt that it is these perspectives that directly relate to why breaks throughout the year are needed. While many people, including parents, have discussed their frustration with Presidents’ Break, some students, as well as others do find a purpose for this break. While Presidents’ Break may be an entire week long, some students have expressed to me that there is a need for at least some version of a break. These breaks are not just for students to have the ability to catch up in their classes and spend time with family, but for students themselves. I asked a student at Kentwood what she thought about the overall morale of students, she said that these breaks (and even the early-release days), are needed for students individually. She expressed her frustration as she feels that staff members (not just the high school counselors), are not prepared to deal with various concerns and challenges of our students.

However, I truly believe in the hard work and dedication that the staff members all throughout the school district possess every day. I hope that everyone in KSD had a great break, and I wish everyone the best of luck as we finish the school year!

I am always available to talk about issues confronting the School Board and all of the students in the District, so please reach out to me. 
Update from Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts
Instructional Leadership Matters

As Superintendent of Kent School District, the fifth largest and most diverse in Washington state, I am responsible for leading, supporting and engaging with 46,000 Team KSD members--including 25,400+ students, 18,000+ families as well as 3,400+ teachers, administrators and support staff. I also have the pleasure to serve alongside our five School Board Directors who are collectively responsible for a) approving our district's budget, b) approving district policy, and c) evaluating my performance as Superintendent. To better understand our Board's role as compared to the Superintendent's, it is often stated that the Board recommends "What the school district should do," and the Superintendent (along with staff and community input) recommends "How the school district should do it." 

Regardless of roles and responsibilities, leadership is at the core of what I do. As challenging as my role is, however, I cannot lead this organization by myself. For that reason, I am very fortunate to be supported by an outstanding team of leaders within our classrooms, and at both the local school and central administration offices. While there are nine employee groups and eight labor units in KSD, I often remind our community that there are really only two types of employees--those who effectively teach our students, and those who effectively support those who teach.  

Effective instructional leadership requires our commitment to intentional and observable practices (ie. clearly identified learning targets, reviewing performance data, and regularly monitoring student performance) so that each and every student, teacher and administrator will be better equipped to learn, teach and support those who teach. In fact, on Tuesday, April 16, I joined Panther Lake ES Principal, Pam Pogson, Assistant Principal, Erica Aulava, and Executive Director of Learning Improvement, Dr. Marion Smith for an in depth coaching conversation, followed by a "Learning Walk."  

Learning walks help me to better understand what is going on in each learning environments. On that particular day as we walked through, I witnessed examples of teachers providing high quality instructional practices, students who were engaged as problem solvers and critical thinkers, and I even observed and asked questions of our teachers as they effectively used planning time to create and improve lessons based on their students' current performance. It was a pleasure to see our core business of teaching and learning in action. I am grateful to our administrators, teachers and support staff at Panther Lake ES for their instructional leadership, and I look forward to my next learning walk.

Kind regards,
Dr. Calvin J. Watts
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.
This past month, the Board recognized April as Occupational Therapy Month and held special meetings and presentations for the following:
  • Policy 1801 Race and Equity Update & First Reading
  • Fiscal Planning Update
  • 2019-2020 Preliminary Staffing Allocations
  • A fun-filled showcase evening with our CTE Program staff, students and their mentors
  • December 2018 Financial Statement
  • 2018-2019 Budget Status Update: February 2019
  • Public Hearing on the Sale of Real Property
  • Discussed and approved the following:
  • Decision Regarding Sale of Real Property: Old Covington Elementary
  • Fiscal Recovery Task Force Action Plan Amendment
  • RFP KSD2019-01 Independent Auditor Services
  • Inclusive Education Sensory Cognitive Instruction Contracts
  • Microsoft Professional Development Funding #3
  • Microsoft Donation to Purchase Security Solution Software
  • Professional Development Management System Replacement
Upcoming School Board Events
April 24: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
April 24: Board Meeting at 7 p.m.
May 1:  Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
May 8:  Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
May 8: Board Meeting at 7 p.m.
May 9:  Board Community Conversation at 6-8 p.m. at Kentlake Library
May 9:  Board Community Conversation at 6-8 p.m. at Kentwood Library
May 11: Board Community Conversation at 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Fairwood Library
May 15: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
May 22: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
May 22: Board Meeting at 7 p.m.

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