Community Conversations

  • Ongoing Two-Way Communication

    To create a system to encourage a consistent flow of information from students, parents, families, and our community to the district and provide an opportunity for face-to-face two-way communication, in April 2018 Kent School District (KSD) began hosting District Community Conversations.

    Families, staff, and community are invited to come together at the Community Conversations to engage with KSD leadership, staff and each other. Information about our district including progress towards shared strategic goals, budget, facility projects, and more may be provided by district representatives, with the opportunity to speak with district administrators and ask questions. These events also provide an opportunity for stakeholders to engage, provide input and advise our district. Interpreters are provided at each event.

    The format, location and times change as we host each series and work to continuously improve these events so we can better meet the needs of all of our diverse KSD community. 

    Spring 2019 Community Input Opportunities 

    In the spirit of continuous improvement and to ensure diversity of voice this spring we are focusing our energy and district resources on two main areas of community input:

    • 2018-19 Student, Parent/Family and Staff Surveys
    • Building on what we have received at earlier district-wide community conversations as we continuously improve districtwide moving forward

    The 2019 KSD Parent and Staff Surveys were redesigned by the Strategic Plan Steering Committee over the course of several months during the 2018-19 school year. These surveys are designed to find out what each parent thinks about their child's or children's school. This spring, the greatest opportunity for KSD community feedback is for students, families, and staff to complete the 2019 surveys. Surveys will be sent home in June. If you have more than one child enrolled in Kent School District, you may complete a separate survey for each child. KSD Students also have an opportunity to provide their input. Additionally, for the first time the Staff Survey will go out to all KSD staff members district wide. This is two-way communication, meaning transmission is not happening just one way, in that: responses from each survey will be used both at the school level and the district level for school improvement plans and for organization-wide improvement and survey results will be posted on our website for public viewing.

    Additionally district leaders continue to support two-way communication through meetings with individuals, small groups and community organizations and through learning how the newly adopted district wide tool ThoughtExchange can support our shared goal of successfully preparing all students for their futures moving forward. 

Fall 2018 Community Conversations

  • Fall Community Conversations: Insights, Feedback and Next Steps

    The Fall 2018 KSD Community Conversations were held in alignment with KSD's strategic communication plan to proactively involve stakeholders in our district priorities. These regularly held face to face conversations, open to all KSD Community Members, create a system that encourages a flow of information from and between the community and the district.

    Based on feedback from our April 2018 Community Conversations we changed the format to a 90-minute town hall style event for the fall meetings, we ensured that questions could be submitted online anonymously, and we also shared information via Facebook live and each event.

    There was a technical issue with the livestream on Saturday, November 10 that prevented the sound from being transmitted throughout the meeting. We attempted to resolve this error during the meeting, but unfortunately, we are not able to restore the sound on this livestream feed and we apologize for this inconvenience.

    More than 40 KSD staff members, including our panelists, translators and support staff attended the Community Conversations. Without their commitment and support these events would not be possible.

    Attendance and engagement, both in person and via Facebook live was as follows:

    Kentridge High School, November 6:

    In-Person Attendance at 90-minute Town Hall Meeting: 24 Community Members
    Facebook Live Engagement:Peak Live Viewers: 32
    Average Video Watch time: 74 seconds
    Unique Viewers (3-second views): 1,314

    Kent-Meridian High School, November 8:

    In-Person Attendance at 90-minute Town Hall Meeting:  11 Community Members
    Facebook Live Engagement:Peak Live Viewers: 29
    Average Video Watch time: 70 seconds
    Unique Viewers (3-second views): 1,524

    Kent Youth and Family Services, November 10:

    In-Person Attendance at 90-minute Town Hall Meeting:     12 Community Members
    Facebook Live Engagement: Audio not available due to technical difficulties. Unique Viewers (3-second views): 480

    Moving Forward Together

    The intent of our Community Conversations is to proactively involve all stakeholders in our district priorities by encouraging a flow of information from and between the community and the district and engaging in face-to-face conversations on a regular basis.

    We want to hear from students, families, staff and community members how we might increase the likeliness of your attendance at our next Community Conversation. Thank you in advance for taking a few minutes to complete this survey and share your thoughts on future KSD Community Conversations.

    Our next KSD Community Conversations will be in Spring 2019. We will begin planning after the first of the year, your feedback to the survey above and the feedback received at these events will be considered in our planning. Details about all future KSD Community Conversations will be available on our website, social media platforms, newsletters and more.


    Remaining Questions Posed by Community

    Responses to two questions received during the week that could not be answered during the meeting are posted below.

    Q: The actual vs. projected KSD student enrollment numbers are down significantly for the 2018-2019 school year. We were told a miscalculation in enrollment projections was the major cause of budget issues for the 2017-2018 school year. I am curious to know how many students still live within the KSD boundaries but opt to attend public school outside the district because they feel their needs are being adequately met within the district. Please project the data on the total number of students who did "choice transfer requests" (i.e. out of district transfers) for each of the last 5 years. Also, provide the dollar amount that KSD is missing out on each year due to these out of district transfers.

    A: The number of students who have been accepted on a “Choice Transfer” out of the Kent School District for the past 4 years is listed below. Families can request a transfer out of the district for a variety of reasons including improving the students financial, educational, safety or health conditions, attending a school more accessible to childcare or parent/guardian’s place of work, a special hardship, enrollment in an online program, or enrollment in a district that employs a parent or guardian.

    The numbers below include approved transfer requests for new and renewing students who live in our boundaries. These numbers include home-based families who are accessing online programs offered by another district. We actually have over 200 less students utilizing this option then we did 4 years ago. Please note that prior to the 2015-16 school year the transfer process was not digitized in our region and thus was not tracked among our districts in the same way. 

    • 2018-2019: 1,034
    • 2017-2018: 1,133
    • 2016-2017: 1,086
    • 2015-2016: 1,245

    Approximate dollar amount based on Basic Ed Allocations:

    • 2018-2019: $9,476,010.28 ($9,164.42 x 1034)
    • 2017-2018: $7,130,267.54 ($6,895.81 x 1133)
    • 2016-2017: $6,969,752.52 ($6,471.82 x 1086)
    • 2015-2016: $7,674,391.65 ($6,164.17 x 1245)

    Q: (Question was question changed by submitter after KM event, Question was changed again on December 16, 2018.): There were a significant higher number of teachers who left the district this past year compared to the average year. The vacation/PTO/sick/etc. time balance payout for these employees obviously has a huge adverse impact on the budget.  Please provide the specific data as to the total number of teachers who left the district each of the last 5 years and the respective amount paid out each of the past 5 years for this vacation/PTO/sick/etc. time.  I want to see what just how much the budget took a hit by the huge increase in the number of teachers leaving...How many certificated staff and administrators (principals, assistant principals, others at the district office) have tendered resignations or have been laid off so far this year compared with last year? Last 5 years and the respective amount paid out each of the past 5 years for this vacation/PTO/sick/etc. time.   

    A: Attrition data previously shared, was shared again on November 10 at the Community Conversation:

    • 2017-2018 (as of July 19, 2018): Teachers 292 (48 retiring / 47 relocating / 131 job opportunity / 66 other) , Principals 5, Asst. Principals 3 
    • 2016-2017: Teachers 193, Principals 5, Asst. Principals 3
    • 2015-2016: Teachers 208, Principals 4, Asst. Principal 4
    • 2014-2015: Teachers 150, Principals and Asst. Principals
    • 2013-2014: Teachers 100, Principals and Asst. Principals 4  

    Q: The information and calculation about the total amount of paid "vacation/PTO/sick/etc.”  for each of the bargaining groups for separated employees varies by individual employee situation and the respective collective bargaining agreement for that group in each year, or for non-represented staff the accurate benefits as described in their handbook. This specific portion of this question should be submitted as a public records request. Amended Question December 16, 2018: "Would you be able to provide the total amount of paid “vacation/PTO/sick/etc.” for the just the teachers as a collective group each of the past 5 years? Just to clarify, I am not asking for the individual employee amounts paid out; just for the group total for teachers….one dollar amount for each year (5 numbers)."

    A: Teachers only receive Employee Discretionary Leave (EDL) days and sick leave per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  

    EDL table

    These questions were received for the Saturday, November 10 event. Responses will be posted below due to the sound issue on the Facebook Live video:

    Q: How much money did the district spend on out of state recruiting trips each of the last 5 years? How many teachers were hired in each of the last 5 years from these out of state recruiting trips? How many of the teachers hired from these out of state recruiting trips over the last 5 years still work at KSD as of today?
    A: Since 2014, the fall hiring update shared by HR to the Board at a regular meeting in September or October has included recruitment information to include out of state recruitment trips from the previous year.  In addition, every January, HR presents a recruitment report to the board for the upcoming year outlining the recruitment strategies, hard to fill areas, and specific recruitment locations/events that will be attended that spring.  Until last year (2017-2018) all recruitment for in and out of state efforts was paid out of basic education dollars. The budget for recruitment has fluctuated between $30,000 to $65,000.  Beginning in 2017-2018, recruitment was budgeted to be paid out of Title II, a federal fund that allows for recruitment for teachers.  KSD budgeted $30K in Title II last year for recruitment, but ceased recruitment when it announced a Reduction in Force.  In 2018-2019, all recruitment efforts will be paid out of Title II, $30K—this will cover recruitment in and out of state for hard to fill positions.  In January, HR will again present the recruitment report and will outline the budget, recruitment needs, strategies, and recruitment events.  It will also include answers to questions about the number of out of state teachers.

    It is important to note that in February 2018, the Seattle Times reported the following, “This year, colleges and universities in Washington state provided about 3,000 qualified teachers, while the predicted need is about twice that number.”  The candidates are even harder to find in hard to fill areas such as special education, dual language, ELL, and ESAs (school psychologists, nurses, OT/PT) and the diversity of the candidate pool in Washington continues to be a challenge. Both of these factors necessitate a multi-pronged recruitment strategy to include out of state recruitment.

    Q: Why don't our students have more recess time? I've seen many articles relating behavior and attention being affected by the amount of time they get to have recess and be kids. I could see a lot of the problems teachers are having with some students being diminished if there was more recess time.

    A: Principals are charged with building a master schedule that ensures students are receiving the minimum number of minutes of instruction per OSPI and also must ensure all contractual requirements for an employee’s working conditions are met, to include planning time, a duty free lunch, and length of workday.  In addition, principals must consider the building constraints of scheduling lunch and recess with the number of students in the school.  As always, we seek to consider how to encourage opportunities for student movement and engagement in a students’ daily school activities, to include classroom activities.
    After the final 2017-2018 budget numbers are released at the 11/14 school board meeting, the community will most likely have a number of questions they would like direct answers to. Since the budget information wasn't available for discussion at these community conversations and board meetings are just "listening sessions" for public comments, would Dr. Watts and the finance team be willing to hold a meeting with the community on this topic within the next 30 days? Being willing to hold a timely and meaningful two-way conversation on this specific matter directly with the public, rather than just the school board, would help prove to the community the district is willing to engage in transparent dialogue regarding the continued budget challenges.No there is no plan to hold a meeting of that nature. Our budget and finance team has held a great many open public meetings with the board on the budget, regularly answers questions from community members and others around the region, and the board is forming a Fiscal Recovery Task Force to serve as advisors to the KSD Board.

    Q: The final 2017-2018 budget numbers are to be released at the next school board meeting. If the year end fund balance is in the negative, are Dr. Watts and members of his Cabinet willing to take either a pay cut or a significant number of furlough days as a gesture of goodwill and to help balance the budget? If no, why not? We've been promised for several months that we will end the year with a positive balance so if we don't it's a huge miss on the part of the entire KSD senior leadership team.

    A: Members of executive cabinet, including Dr. Watts answered yes to this question on November 10. The Superintendent and district leaders took furlough days in 2017-18 and would do it again if needed to support the organization. 

    Q: 1. How are secondary special education teachers supposed to make sure a student's IEP is implemented - that the student and their general education teachers are receiving appropriate supports - if these teachers only have one prep period like their general education colleagues? Is there any plan to rectify this arrangement? 2. I read the strategic plan with an eye toward special education and saw only one measure (Goal 3, disproportionality) that specifically has to do with students with disabilities. Setting aside the fact that students with disabilities are general education students first, what changes might we expect from the Special Education department in light of our new strategic plan?

    A: Building administrators outline the procedure for communicating with the general education staff the specific needs of each student. This includes clarification on how the special education teacher and general education teacher will work to support students.  The Special Education Curriculum leaders facilitate a building process for consistent and effective distribution of individual student IEP accommodations. The Case Manager is responsible for bridging the connections with the student, general education teacher, and the implementation of the IEP. This information is outlined in the bargaining agreement with KEA and KSD.

    The KSD strategic plan addresses the needs of all students. Ensuring our core instructional practices provide the academic rigor and high impact strategies is in service of each and every KSD student. The Inclusive Education team is working to realign district supports to the present needs of our schools and students. A part of that work includes cross-team planning and conversations to unpack curriculum and instructional expectations, aligning academic and behavioral intervention strategies, and providing guidance and support to grow our inclusive practices. 

    Q: Do you feel that the $21,000 of tax payer money spent on the set up fee for Peachjar could have been more responsibly spent on one to one laptops for our iGrad students? If no, why not?

    A: This is not how K-12 funding works, the dollars used for Peachjar were not allocated from dollars for laptops for students. These dollars were allocated for improving district-wide communications, Peachjar was a one-time investment of approximately $.77 per student for this year, it is not a reoccurring cost for the district. 

Last Modified on June 6, 2019