Return to Headlines

Kent School District Update

On March 17,  Superintendent Vela shared an update regarding the financial challenges faced by both our district and other school districts in our region. In February, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal warned state leaders about the “perfect storm” in Washington State caused by declining birth rates, COVID-era enrollment declines, and rapidly expiring federal funding. We cannot ignore the challenges ahead and we continue to plan for a fiscally stable future. KSD is starting this work on solid financial footing, which enables us to plan ahead and take strategic steps over time.  

In an effort to be transparent and keep you informed, below are next steps.  

  • Our current staffing levels – both in buildings and departments -- are likely not sustainable in the long term given the declining enrollment and expiring federal funds. Accordingly, we are preparing to “stair step” over the next several years. This year, there is not a need to implement a Reduction in Force (RIF).   
  • It is necessary to adjust staffing to the enrollment increases and decreases produced by the re-boundary process, including our new middle school model which moves sixth grade to middle school, opening Canyon Ridge Middle School, and increasing the number of Inclusive Education programs across the district. In the coming weeks, we will continue our annual IVT process with all our impacted labor partners.  
  • The combination of shifting enrollment due to boundary changes and lower staffing allocations may increase the number of positions displaced or adjusted during the IVT process.  
  • All open positions will continue to be reviewed to determine the need to fill these roles going forward. Again, while some positions will not be filled, there are no plans for a RIF this year in our schools or central office. 
  • Each central office department has been asked to reduce their materials and supplies (MSOC) budget by a minimum of 5%. While central office takes these reductions, schools will continue to receive the same per pupil allocation as before. 
  • Although many districts in our region are considering school closures, KSD is not planning to close any schools next year. 
  • As staffing allocations are adjusted for next year based on enrollment and boundary shifts, the total number of certificated instructional staff in the district should be similar to our staffing levels in 2020. Even with these initial adjustments, we do not expect these budget-tightening measures to be our last, and further reductions will likely be necessary in 2024-25 and beyond. 

While we certainly do not welcome these long-range budget issues, KSD is well positioned to meet this challenge. Maintaining solid financial footing allows us to focus on our key strategic priorities. Our core work is strengthening our program of teaching and learning by focusing on instruction, early literacy, and on a tiered system of supports for our students. Our focus will continue to be on students as we navigate the school funding issues impacting our region and our state.