September 26, 2012

From the Kent School District Board meeting on September 26, 2012
Next meeting is October 24, 2012

Meet The Board

  • Debbie Straus
    Debbie Straus
  • Tim Clark
    Tim Clark
    Vice President
  • Karen DeBruler
    Karen DeBruler
    Legislative Representative
  • Russ Hanscom
    Russ Hanscom
  • Agda Burchard
    Agda Burchard
  • Edward Vargas
    Dr. Edward Vargas
    Secretary to the Board

School Board Recognizes Kentwood and Mattson Students for Service to Others

     The Kentwood Girls’ Swim Team was recognized by the board for putting “compassion ahead of competition.” A few weeks ago, the team competed with the Tahoma Girls’ Swim Team in a dual meet and presented a gift to one of Tahoma’s captains who was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The young lady has begun chemotherapy and her treatment will possibly include radiation. Their gift was a handmade blanket (in Tahoma colors) and cards signed by the KW team. They also passed the hat and donated around $400 to the family. It was a totally unexpected gesture and it brought tears of appreciation to everyone from Tahoma and tears of pride to everyone from KSD. 
     Kentwood and Mattson cheerleaders were honored for their service above self. During the summer and beginning of the school year, they held fundraisers and purchased backpacks filled with school supplies for the students at Covington Elementary. Principal Miles Erdly was on hand to thank the cheer teams and show the board the backpacks that are now cherished by every Covington student.
     Erdly commented, “This was an unbelievable gesture of kindness and has made a huge difference for each of our students.”
Kentwood swim team members with school board and superintendent – the team received a special recognition from the district for their kindness to a competitor who is fighting an illness. 


Bond Refinancing to Save the District Over $2.5M

     Pursuant to the board’s strategic objective of maximizing resources, Dr. Dick Stedry, chief business officer, reported on a significant cost-saving measure. The Department of Fiscal Services is working with the district’s financial advisor, SDM Advisors, and Koegen Edwards, bond counsel, to refund the remaining portion of the district’s Outstanding Unlimited Tax General Obligation Bonds, Series 2002 that have not been previously refunded. The intent in refunding outstanding bonds is to reissue the bonds at lower interest rates, saving taxpayers money. (Editor’s Note: Since the board meeting, the reissue has gone forward and reaped the district a savings of over $2.5M.)
     Dr. Stedry also reported that both Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s have reaffirmed the district’s credit rating. Both agencies categorize the district’s bonds as investment grade, high quality, very strong capacity to meet its financial commitments, and subject to very low credit risk. (Moody’s rating is Aa2 and S&P is AA-) And for 27 consecutive years, KSD has received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the fiscal year 2010-2011 by the Association of School Business Officials International for having met or exceeded the program’s high standards for financial reporting and accountability. 
     The board congratulated Dr. Stedry and the entire fiscal services team for their successful, transparent and informative approach in assisting the board and superintendent in managing the district’s resources.

Board Makes It Official—Accepts $6M Grant
New Green School to Begin Construction in the Fall of 2013 

     After several months of applications and negotiations between Superintendent Vargas and Brighten a Life group, the board approved a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow for the acceptance of up to $6M in grants for the construction of a 15,000 square foot school as part of the Green Schoolhouse Series. The facility will be created using a whole-building approach to green technologies and materials, taking into consideration everything from design to materials and technology. 
     The school will be built for the district on the grounds of Kent Elementary and will include:
  • Main Classroom/Multi-Purpose Room
  • Two STEM Classrooms
  • Health & Wellness Classroom
  • Five Classrooms
  • Outdoor Learning Classroom
  • Teacher Corners
  • Computer Lab
  • Lounge
  • Green Garden
  • Outdoor Fitness Area
  • Unique Feature (School Specific)
  • Mentor/Tutor Room
  • Reading Room
  • Library
  • Kitchen
     Plans are to create a pre-K through kindergarten early childhood center and community school. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2013.

District-wide Task Force on Family Engagement
Set to Be a Major Force in Coming Years

     The school board received a recommendation for the creation of a task force for family engagement from Executive Director of Student and Family Support Services Israel Vela and School Improvement Officer Jeff Sweeney.
     The board charge calls for the development of a clear set of outcomes that will increase parental engagement and to provide identifiable ways and processes for citizens to have meaningful input and participation in public education in the Kent School District. The board approved a matrix of proposed task force membership that will include community members that embody the diversity of the community’s language, ethnicity and culture. Important core partnerships such as PTA/PTSA, faith-based groups, service groups, and local pre-school providers will also be selected to work with leadership staff and union representatives to develop a robust set of recommendations over the next 18 months. 
     Dr. Vargas noted the importance of ensuring all parents and families are full partners in their child’s education. The board approved the charge and the work is beginning immediately.

The school board and superintendent welcome new additions to the KSD leadership team and family members. Melanie Strey (left) is the new Director of Student Services and Rosa Villarreal (standing beside Executive Director Israel Vela on front row) is the new Director of Multilingual Education.

College Bound Scholarship Report Shows
Significant College Focus in the Kent School District

     College and Career Family Services Liaison Randy Nunez reported on the College Bound Scholarship (CBS) program. Established by the state in 2007, CBS is intended to increase the number of low income students in WA prepared and motivated for college by providing early information on college and the financial assistance available. The CBS offers funding to cover tuition for up to four years at an in-state community college, technical college, or public or private university. Students are eligible if they sign up in the seventh- or eighth-grade, participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch program, and graduate from high school with a 2.0 GPA or higher.
     The report showed that over 51% of KSD students are eligible and that 96 % of eligible eighth-grade students signed up in 2012. Five of our six middle schools and academies achieved 100% participation of their eighth-grade students. Currently, our district has 3,212 students enrolled in the program and has the highest enrollment numbers of all south King County school districts.