Kent School District  | February 22, 2019
Dear KSD Community,

We are excited to see our classes get back to normal and we thank the many staff and community members who assisted us through the recent weather conditions.

During school-closure, our community discussed the use of technology in the classroom as an option. Relatedly, concerns of technology use in kindergarten for testing purposes also were discussed during our January community conversations.

While a healthy discussion of the pros and cons of technology in the classroom would serve our district well, it should be noted that testing and technology use are not intertwined. The district’s voter-approved technology in the form of 1:1 devices for students enhances the instruction provided by teachers and serves to supplement the instruction. The devices are also used for state-mandated summative assessments and district-driven formative assessments.

Tests are designed to assess students at age-appropriate levels and state-mandated academic assessments do not begin until third grade. It is clear that the earlier the learning gaps are identified, the sooner the supports can be provided to increase academic performance by third grade. But is testing the only approach for our kindergarten students?

A veteran teacher recently reached out to me with a challenge to rethink how we can assess in the earlier years. She shared this video that demonstrates how the state-mandated Common Core Standards can be taught through play-based learning during part of the day. The video explains why “choice time”, part of a day when students follow their own interests and inquiries, is crucial to their development. Admittedly, such decisions cannot easily be made by our board or district officials. Such inquiry-based approaches require funding and resources tied to legislative mandates that have been imposed on our district. However, collective action can certainly prevail when we see the demonstrated value of approaches that increase social and academic skills. As always, please share with us here any thoughts you may have.

The questions and answers regarding technology, testing and other important issues from our community conversations are posted on the KSD Board page. We look forward to seeing you at our next community conversations on February 28 and March 2.

On behalf of the Kent School District Board of Directors,

Maya Vengadasalam
President, Board of Directors
Kent School District
Celebrating African-American History Month by Director Denise Daniels
During the month of February, I excitedly anticipate the activity in our school buildings that have highlighted our recognition of African-American History month. At times, I am in awe of the displays, literature, and contributions that are shared, and the work and research that has gone into looking beyond the usual. Other times, I am discouraged by the obvious lack of attention given to the opportunity. The question that comes to mind is always “What are we teaching our children about themselves and their value in our society?”

This teacher’s experience is one that is shared with many of us that have grown up multi-cultural in a mainly mono-cultural educational system:

“When I was a child, I grew up thinking I was different from most of the other children at my school. In all the books I read, Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew, Ramona Quimby, no one looked like me, no one had a family like me. The curriculum in school was also the same. The textbooks represented a history I was not a part of. It was easy for me to feel disconnected from school.” (R. Agarwal-Rangnath)

African-American history is American history; however, this is not reflected in most of our educational experiences and curriculum. Ethnic or multicultural studies in classrooms offers students the opportunity to examine and explore multiple perspectives, by honoring and respecting the different groups and people that have contributed to our society. Ethnic studies benefit all students by working to develop critical thinking and self-esteem. Students are given opportunities to question what they read and think critically about mainstream forms of knowledge. Ethnic studies also expand and diversifies classroom content. Voices that are often silenced and marginalized in textbooks are honored and respected in a multicultural curriculum. Ethnic studies courses dispel myths and work to build connections among students as opposed to divisions. Students learn stories of courage, resistance, and solidarity, and that they can be agents of change.

My hope is that soon we will no longer need a designation of time to attempt to promote inclusivity in our educational system and other places. Thank you to those educators that make this a priority each day; I know you are out there!

Denise Daniels
Legislative Update from Director Ross Hardy
There are a lot of bills to watch that are being moved forward out of various committees. Specifically, the House Education, House Health Care and Wellness, and Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committees are all advancing bills that will impact education in the state.

Of particular interest, high school graduation requirements: assessment requirements and proposed graduation pathways (HB 1089, HB 1121, HB 1599, HB 1720). Specifically, they seek to decouple the assessment requirement from graduation, and require a new “graduation pathway” requirement. It is important for our district to weigh-in on the feasibility of this new idea.
WSSDA, WASA, and WASBO all cancelled their legislative conferences and the "Day on the Hill" due to the severe weather, so as of yet, there is no concerted effort to advance school districts' educational priorities. We are still looking to schedule time with our local legislators to talk about our priorities.
Keep sending in your thoughts on the legislative priorities for our district.

Ross Hardy
Legislative Representative, Board of Directors
Kent School District
Messages from Directors Karen Debruler and Debbie Straus
Message from Karen:
In honor of Black History Month, the PBS television network is running its documentary series, “AFRICAN AMERICANS, Many Rivers to Cross” all month. It covers African American history from the African continent through the election of Barack Obama. It is well worth watching this coverage of American history!
Message from Debbie:
With the recent weather, I have been reflecting on first responders. They, regardless of circumstances, are the first on a scene to help. Our staff at our schools are first responders. They, often without a lot of thanks, work hard to make sure that the needs of our students are met. One of my favorite quotes is "Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person." Thank you to all those who help our students every day. You are making the world a better place.
Update from Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts
Our record-breaking winter storms in February impacted our entire KSD Community. I am so appreciative of our KSD Staff, particularly our Operational Services Community, including our Maintenance and Custodial Staff, and Safety Services teams who addressed our facilities and maintenance issues brought on by the storms, including power outages, clear snow, slush and debris from sidewalks and parking lots to ensure all buildings are safe for reentry. I also want to thank our labor partners who have worked closely with us to make decisions about the early release on Friday, February 8. We appreciate the collaboration and we are grateful for our partnerships with each of our labor partners. And I want to thank our Communications and Public Affairs team for working diligently to ensure all families, staff, community members and the media have accurate and timely school delay and closure information.

As both a member of #TeamKSD415 and a KSD parent, I recognize the impact that school schedule changes may have on your families. Please know how much I personally appreciate both your partnership and flexibility during these unpredictable weather situations. Due to the January wind storms we had already announced, we would be using the school closure make-up day on March 29. Our student calendar , revised 1/11/19 states “In the event of school cancellation by the district, the make-up day shall occur on April 29. If more days are necessary, they will be added to the end of the school year in June.” It is important to keep in mind that make-up days, including any changes to our current school calendar, are determined through a bargaining process with our labor partner, Kent Education Association.

As I shared in a Winter Weather Update earlier this month, there are certain circumstances when school districts are able to apply for a waiver to the 180-day school year requirement. We will apply for this waiver once all threats of snow have passed. We will not know if we have the waiver for several weeks as we still need to follow an application approval process through our state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). At this time, please plan for additional snow days to be added to the end of the school year calendar.

Again, I thank each and every member of our KSD Community for your patience and support as we continue to prioritize the safety of all students and staff across the district each day.

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
3rd Grade ELA, Non-Dual Language Proficiency Data is 30.5%. 3rd Grade ELA Dual Language Proficiency Data is 62.5%. 3rd Grade Math Non-Dual Language Proficiency Data is 29.5%. 3rd Grade Math Dual Language Proficiency Data is 65%.
  • Director Nina Williams presented a Dual Language Program update. Board and staff
members enjoyed reading with our students in English and in Spanish. “…dual language education is the most powerful school reform for high academic achievement, whatever the demographic mix.” -Collier and Thomas, 2012

  • Technology integration team, led by Executive Director Teshon Christie, and iGrad
Principal Carol Cleveland, presented the current state of iGrad. The presentation was followed by a work session with all parties and the Board to discuss misalignment of data.

  • The Fiscal Recovery Task Force Action Plan was approved at the October 24, 2018
board meeting to ensure the Kent School District has the necessary financial resources to facilitate effective learning excellence for every student. Community members, Jennifer Harjehausen and Steve Klem, presented an update on the selected Task Force members.

  • Human Resources team, led by Chief Human Resources Officer Moriah Martin,
presented a report that outlines the district’s efforts to recruit, interview, select, and employ qualified, highly effective staff members who reflect our student population, have bilingual skills, and/or the certification necessary for typically hard-to-fill positions.

  • Chief Accountability Officer, Dr. Jewelle Harmon, presented updated information
about the 2018-19 Strategic Plan Priority Initiative Metrics.

  • Upon Board’s request for deeper analysis of monthly financial statements, Executive
Director of Finance Ben Rarick provided a detailed presentation on our financial statement as well as our November and December budget updates.
Upcoming School Board Events
February 27: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
February 27 : Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
February 28: Board Community Conversation at Kentwood Library from 6-8 p.m.
February 28: Board Community Conversation at Kent-Meridian Library from 6-8 p.m.
March 2: Board Community Conversation at Kent Senior Center from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
March 6: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
March 13: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
March 13: Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
March 20: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
March 27: Board Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
March 27: Regular Board Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
Board meeting agendas, minutes, and policies are accessible through the BoardDocs Site .