Fall 2018 Q&A

  • October 2018 Community Conversations with the School Board Event

    Kent School Board directors recorded many questions during Community Conversations with the School Board events held on October 11 and October 13, 2018. The Board worked with members of Team KSD to provide answers on October 18, 2018. 

    If at any time you have a question or concern for one or more Kent School Board directors, please contact them directly. 

    Questions Related to Goal 1

    Prepare all students to be college and career ready by raising the academic and social-emotional learning bar and closing the PreK-16 gaps to student achievement and college completion.

    What is our (district) thought on this (Co-Teaching Model) model? Has it been effective? If yes, how? If no, why not?

    The KSD teaching model is based on the research of Andrea Honigsfeld and Marie Dove. Their research identifies seven models that allow flexibility to match the structure that best meets the needs of students in the classroom. KSD has ongoing training for lead teachers utilizing this model for each of our schools. This model is highly effective when collaborative planning is a consistent practice for each co-teaching pair and when expectations for instructional delivery are co-developed.

    Need to give newcomers more time – more pullouts to learn basics. Does anyone know how much learning is going on with ELL students?

    English Learner (EL) students are, first and foremost, general education students. They are scholars who are highly capable. Many of our EL students are in various stages of correlating their content knowledge with the English language (depending on their level of proficiency). EL beginners need substantial time in core instruction. Pulling students out of instruction sets them back academically and serves to widen the gap between them and their peers. Beginner ELs should be fully immersed in all classroom activities with specific strategies, scaffolds, and differentiated approaches to meet their needs. Our Smarter Balanced (SBA) data for our EL students tend to mirror the trends for the state. We are continuing to work closely with our teachers and administrators to support student learning for each and every KSD student.

    No time to plan together with co-teaching. Could the co-teacher do pullouts to assist?

    Pull-out would not be the preferred method of service delivery for ELs and is not part of the co-teaching training for ELs in KSD. There are opportunities for students to have groups within the classroom.

    Why can’t the teachers have the flexibility to decide which student should be ‘push-in’ and which student should be part of the ‘pull-out’?

    Our core curriculum is an expectation for all students. When students need additional support, we rely on our teachers and administrators to:

    1. Implement the instructional model as designed
    2. Work with our multi-lingual education team to develop an appropriate intervention plan for support
    3. Always utilize research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of students.

    Is the district goal to go to teacher facilitators and have all learning on computers?

    This is not the goal of the KSD district or the board, and this was expressed in person by board members at the community conversations.

    How are curriculum teams chosen?

    Teams to develop curricular guides by first, sending an email to principals and curricular leaders requesting recommendations from each school. The emails outline the role of these individuals and what the team is looking for (i.e. one teacher per grade level, one teacher per school, representation from EL, SPED, other content areas, ADMIN, parents) Each team attempts to have an ethnically and gender diverse team. District leaders choose from this list ensuring the parameters of representation across the district are met, as well as other requirements. If the initial call for individuals does not produce a balanced team then we may recruit people to fill roles that have not been filled.

    How is the curriculum chosen for the teams to review?

    Our Curriculum Coordinators looks at data to identify the learning gaps that need to be addressed. The team does research about effective and innovative instructional resources, inquire with similar districts to identify what resources they are using and the results, they contact individuals at Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) to get resource ideas, and they solicit ideas from our teachers. Lastly, the team makes selections about what resources will be reviewed by the full curriculum team.

    Questions Related to Goal 2

    Engage parents, students, staff, and community in two-way communications focused on equity and excellence.

    What is happening with iGrad? Announcement made to move academies to the old Panther Lake building, but no mention of iGrad in the announcement. Will it be at KPA or with others at PL?

    Washington State has made significant efforts to re-engage students that have been disengaged from their education. In 2010, Washington State House Bill 1418 established a dropout re-engagement system that provides education and services to older youth, ages 16-21, who have dropped out of school or are not expected to graduate from high school by the age of 21. This bill also allows KSD to partner with community organizations to provide a more diverse array of educational models. KSD has offered students Open Doors Youth Reengagement through iGrad, and while continuing to do so in the 2018-19 school year, we are also working to expand our partnerships with local colleges, community-based organizations, and other contracted organizations to provide our students the widest variety of options to meet their needs.
    As for any proposed changes to iGrad, KSD has not made a final decision regarding any potential changes to the iGrad program. We will discuss any proposed changes with our labor partners before decisions are made to ensure that we work to address the impacts of any changes on our employees. Superintendent Dr. Calvin Watts is also holding empathy conversations with current iGrad students to gain their perspective on the iGrad program.

    Updated Spring 2019: iGrad will not be moving to the KPA site.

    Birchcreek kids’ transportation issues need to be resolved. If kids are late to the bus stop, no rides as KL is far and they are marked as absent.

    KSD has two buses for students residing at Birch Creek for transportation to Kentlake High School. Route five (5) picks up at 6:50 a.m. and Route 29 picks up at 6:59 a.m. Students are assigned passes that are aligned to the specific bus routes based on the Birch Creek unit numbers in order to balance the number of students to ensure each bus is not over capacity. We recommend students arrive at the bus stop 5-minutes early to avoid missing the bus.

    Why isn’t iGrad part of the GEM mentoring program? It is great that it is at KM, but iGrad students need the services just as much.

    iGrad has not been a part of Men on the Move mainly because their non-traditional structure and schedule has not lent itself to the program. iGrad Students can attend school between 8:30 am - 8:30 pm or they can work on online classes 24/7 at home. iGrad diploma students attend onsite classes 3-6 hours per week and pre-GED students attend 9 hours per week. As an open-door program iGrad is designed for students who have dropped out of high school or who are significantly behind on credits and are 16-21 years old. Two years ago, iGrad students were invited to participate, but they were not able to get enough students interested and available to participate. Men on the Move has traditionally taken place during the instructional day and serves middle school and high school students. We will continue to evaluate access and improve the Men on the Move program.

    Teachers are waiting for the boundary decisions to be made, i.e. moving 6th graders to middle schools as elementary schools are overcrowded. What is the status? Please update as early as possible.

    As we grow KSD with a new elementary school on the west hill, and a new location for KPA and KMVA, boundary realignments will be required to address students in the Kent Valley who will attend this most westerly school. Kindergartners at Kent Valley Early Learning Center (KVELC) will need to return to their boundary school(s) by fall 2021 as 2020 is the last year Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) will allow KVELC for this use. All relevant current and historical data is currently being reviewed to assess KSD enrollment trends, and to determine further boundary analysis, examination, and subsequent need for shifting boundaries. This review does include examining the possibilities of aligning KSD with other neighboring districts potentially moving sixth graders to the middle school experience. Any such district wide changes will involve multiple opportunities for student, staff, parent and community input and feedback. Information and updates on this process will be shared through regular district communication channels, the next update will be shared once initial data has been pulled and reviewed by KSD leadership to determine needs and next steps.

    Questions related to Goal 3

    Create effective organizational systems that reinforce equity and excellence.

    Free/Reduced lunch numbers. Kent is not rich, so why is the number so low now? Are immigrant families not willing to complete the forms due to concerns regarding ICE? National Board Certification stipends rely on these numbers. Can we get numbers by schools and not an average?

    All students whose families meet the financial thresholds are eligible to receive free/reduced lunch. There are many methods for which families can certify that they are eligible. As of May 2018, according to OSPI, 48.8% of KSD students were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches.

    • For additional information on Child Nutrition, please visit: http://www.k12.wa.us/ChildNutrition/Programs/NSLBP/FreeReduced.aspx
    • For free and reduced student populations by school, visit: https://public.tableau.com/shared/MSW4DZ8XX?:display_count=yes

    Why isn’t iGrad covered under the tech levy? Students don’t have a smartboard and have very old computers…have been waiting over three years. Staff helped with the levy but no support received in return.

    iGrad was not included in the initial 1:1 initiative. However, under new Organizational Effectiveness leadership, iGrad students are being issued laptops for the 2018-19 school year.

    Why was iGrad told about the culminating projects right before graduation – and students were held back until it was completed in the summer?

    • Graduation requirements for all KSD students are outlined in board policy 2410.
    • The culminating project will provide evidence of a student’s education and preparation for the future. Learning objectives, components and assessment of the culminating project are described in detail in relation to KSD graduation requirements in board procedure 2410P.
    • There is no exception for any high school or high school diploma granting program to excuse the culminating project from being a graduation requirement.

    Why are culminating projects in place when the state has said it is not necessary?

    The KSD Board has recommended that KSD keep culminating projects as a requirement for graduation as many school officials and the Board see the value of how the projects prepare students to enter college and career well in advance of 12th grade.

    Why do the culminating projects look so different in all of our high schools? Some are much more rigorous than others.

    The culminating project will provide evidence of a student’s education and preparation for the future. Learning objectives, components and assessment of the culminating project are described in detail in relation to KSD graduation requirements in board procedure 2410P.

    Do we know how much screen time is being used in elementary schools?

    We do not track screen time for our students during the instructional day. There are no mandates that students use devices a minimal amount of time during the school day. The technology provided is intended to facilitate instruction and student access to information, not be the sole information provider.

    How do we increase student voice in the use of technology?

    By increasing student involvement in district processes and committees (e.g., strategic planning steering committee, student leadership advisory, equity council) we can increase student perspectives on how technology is used by students in the district.

    Questions related to Goal 4

    Recruit, hire, develop, and retain a diverse and premier workforce.

    Equity not getting addressed. Why do we have the same NUMBER of supports in the elementary and secondary schools when there are clearly more kids in some schools which warrant additional staff?

    Certificated classroom allocations are driven by enrollment counts, using the class size language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). For 2018-19 allocations, schools that are targeted according to ESSA were allocated an additional ESSA instructional coach. Regarding administrator and clerical staffing, those allocations are driven not only by class size, but also a variety of need factors to include free/reduced meals, mobility, EL, SPED, and other special programs. In addition, high needs schools have access to categorical funds to staff at higher levels.

    Can we get more educational assistants in elementary schools?

    Every elementary school is either staffed with an Assistant Principal or a full-time Educational Assistant. In 2017-18, Educational Assistants were only part-time. KSD has increased this allocation to full-time for 2018-19.

    Can the Board enact a policy to outdo ‘administrative leave’ and change it to ‘professional leave’, and have a no-harm clause for employees who are mistakenly accused? Those who are accused in error now must mark that they have been investigated and have a permanent record in their file. District’s refusal to address this will cost thousands of dollars in grievances.

    When there is an allegation against an employee indicating harm to a student, it is important that the District has documentation the employee was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Should the investigation show the allegation was unfounded, KSD provides the employee with documentation that attests that fact. Both documents are important to show that due process was followed and that the District conducted an investigation of all allegations of harm to a student. KSD follows due process to include providing Weingarten rights, holding Loudermill hearings, and conducting fair and comprehensive investigations. All disciplinary action requires that all seven tests of just cause have been met.
    District is expected to end in the red for August according to WEA.

    • When financial decisions are getting discussed, can there be a roundtable discussion with all 10 labor partners (and the non-reps) together with Dr. Watts and Ms. Martin?
      • Even if there is disagreement, at least there was a discussion and awareness.
        Executive Cabinet will seek to add this discussion to an upcoming Cabinet meeting, which has representatives from all bargaining groups and non-represented employees at the meeting.
    • Where can public go to see org chart of the district administration? Would like to have an easier way of contacting correct people.
      • Contact information for all central administration staff is available on the district website under Contact Us or by navigating to the specific department you are looking for from the KSD homepage to get their contact information.
        The updated organizational chart has been posted on the available on the district website under Contact Us, this will be updated periodically.
    • How many current openings are there in Special ED including teacher positions?
      • Out of 43.7 total SPED teacher vacancies, KSD still has 15.6 vacant SPED positions (8.6 filled w/ agency, 1.5 still vacant, 4.5 part filled w/ agency and part still vacant)
    • How does this compare to last year?
      • In 2017-2018, KSD had 42.9 total SPED teacher vacancies and filled 4.9 with agency
    • How many are being filled by outside agencies?
      • 6 FTE
        2017-18 Sped Teacher Attrition Rate Sped Teachers Separations – 34 Total Teachers Separations – 340
        2017-18 Cert Count – 1847 Sped Teachers Attrition Rate for 17-18 – 1.84% (34/1847 = 1.84%) Total Percentage of Sped Teacher resignations out of all Cert Resignations – 10% (34/340 = 10%)
        2018-19 Sped Teacher Vacancy Fill Rate Total Vacancy – 43.7 Total Filled – 28 Total Still Open – 6 (8.6 filled w/agency, 1.5 still vacant, 4.5 part filled w/agency and part still vacant) 2018-19 Sped Cert Vacancy Fill Rate – 64%

    Questions related to the Superintendent's Community:

    • Why did For the Record get taken down? Is it possible to have those answers to those questions re-posted?
      • For the Record was used as a communication tool for a short period of time last spring to answer questions from our community. As we move forward into the 2018-2019 school year, we will use other tools to engage in meaningful, two-way communication. The Q&A that were posted on For the Record, and information about it being taken down, are available on the Communications and Public Affairs page.
    • What is the current headcount of the communications department? How many new positions? What are the job titles?
      • The names, titles and contact information of the Communications and Public Affairs team members are available on their webpage. Historically the KSD Communications and Public Affairs team has been staff at 4-8 full time positions depending on district need, funding and structure. Only one position is new in the 2018-19 school year. The Multimedia Communications Specialist was created out of district need; the Communications Assistant was formerly a long-term fulltime paid internship that was reclassified and the Graphic Design position was in another department within KSD and moved into the communications team as part of the central administration reorganization announced in March 2018.
    • Request for a statement from Dr Watts on what personalized learning means to him.
      • “Personalized learning is an equity-based instructional approach to meet learners where they are. The goal for personalized learning is to fully engage learners based on their passions, interests, and affinities, and includes, but is not limited to whole group, small group and individualized instruction. Please see the US Department of Education's statement below, which I agree with.” Dr. Calvin J. Watts, Superintendent. The US Department of Education defines it as: Personalized learning refers to instruction in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are optimized for the needs of each learner. Learning objectives, instructional approaches, and instructional content (and its sequencing) may all vary based on learner needs. In addition, learning activities are made available that are meaningful and relevant to learners, driven by their interests and often self-initiated.

    Questions related to the KSD Board Goals

    • Some concerns about what happens after a board meeting where staff members communicate from the audience. How are these concerns and resolutions discussed with the Board?
      • The board is still working on how to address this in our communication plan. The draft plan is posted on the board website.
    • Can all board meetings including special meetings and work sessions be listed on the home page of the district website under Calendar of Upcoming Events?
      • Yes, the meeting can be added. Details of all KSD Board meetings, such as agendas, are available on BoardDocs.
Last Modified on August 16, 2019