School Board Reviewing Final School Boundary Report
The KSD Board Will vote on Moving Forward with Proposed Boundary Changes on January 27
At the work session on January 13, 2021, MGT Consulting presented its School Boundary Review Final Report (PDF). The work session was followed by the regularly scheduled board meeting that included a Public Hearing where community members provided comments on the Final Report to the School Board.
The goal of the boundary study was to develop a final report to the Board that provides information on recommended and necessary changes to school attendance areas to:
- Balance school boundaries for space and programs to continue meeting our community's needs at our existing schools.
- Draw attendance boundaries for the new elementary school.
- Begin evaluating access to district programs.
In August 2020, MGT Consulting was commissioned by the KSD Board to conduct the first review and analysis of school attendance boundaries in Kent School District since 2008. After careful consideration, review, and analysis of all the collected data, themes identified during staff interviews, and community engagement, MGT has provided final findings and recommendations to the Board. The School Board is now thoughtfully reviewing the Final Boundary Review Report and will take action at the January 27, 2021, board meeting. This is the first time the KSD board is considering districtwide boundary changes in over twelve years.
Here is a summary of the final recommended boundary changes from MGT Consulting as they align to the goals of the boundary study:
Goal 1: Balance school boundaries for space and programs to continue meeting our community's needs at our existing schools.
The proposed boundary changes MGT Consulting has recommended to the KSD Board to meet goal one are profoundly interconnected and dependent upon one another to be successful and impact all schools districtwide.
It is no surprise to KSD families and staff the boundary study unveiled inequitable access to some programs due to utilization issues, especially in elementary schools. And because a districtwide boundary change has not been done in more than 12 years, educational programs are not geographically distributed in the district, resulting in many students traveling outside their attendance strands to access those programs.
The recommendations from MGT to meet this goal include:
- reducing the overcrowding of schools through adjusting elementary school attendance boundaries and moving sixth grade from elementary schools to the middle schools.
- adjusting all school attendance boundaries to create feeder pattern alignment, so elementary schools feed entirely into a middle school, and middle schools feed entirely into a high school.
- and conducting a review of educational programs and their accessibility to students to create a strategic and proper distribution plan into feeder strands.
Throughout this process, MGT Consulting and KSD Leadership have openly recognized that moving forward, KSD will need to conduct a comprehensive facility master plan to establish locations and the cost of new construction for additions to school buildings. Long-term, construction of new school buildings as the Kent, Covington, and surrounding communities continue to thrive and grow will be needed to solve overcrowding at all grade levels. Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts and KSD Leadership have also committed to more frequent boundary study processes moving forwarded, which the KSD Community identified as a priority in the family survey.
Goal 2: Draw attendance boundaries for the new elementary school.
KSD has expended voter-approved funds to design, plan, and construct a new elementary school located on the west side of the school district boundary in what is now the Neely-O’Brien attendance boundary. The new school will help with the overcrowding of Neely-O’Brien Elementary as well as several surrounding Elementary schools.
On January 13, 2021, the KSD Board approved the new name, color, and mascot of the new elementary school as recommended by the Planning Principal, Kristi White, and her core planning team. The River Ridge Elementary Raptors will have ocean blue, black, and silver as their colors.
To create a boundary for the new elementary school, the surrounding elementary boundaries must be adjusted. The new elementary attendance boundary consists of the northern half and a portion of the southwest edge of the current Neely-O’Brien boundary, the southwestern corner of the current Springbrook boundary including the Central Flats Apartments, the southwest island attendance zone of the current Panther Lake boundary, and the western edge of the existing East Hill boundary.
Goal 3: Begin evaluating access to district programs.
Much of the educational program inequity currently across the districts is due to the current boundaries and misaligned feeder patterns in place for years. Currently, 12 of 28 elementary schools have misaligned feeder patterns.
Adjusting school attendance boundaries creates feeder pattern alignment, so elementary schools feed entirely into a middle school, and middle schools feed entirely into a high school. It allows students to stay together with their peers through high school, creating a sense of belonging, especially in areas such as sports, music, art, band, and extracurricular clubs. Additionally, educational programs can be distributed equally into the four high school feeder strands resulting in more equitable access. Finally, this allows educators from different grade levels to collaborate on instructional strategies and create pedagogy alignment vertically.
However, balancing the district programs equitably and carefully considering the transportation, transfers, and agreements in place and working with labor partners will take time. However, it cannot begin until the feeder pattern is aligned, schools' attendance boundaries are adjusted, and overcrowding is reduced to make room for programming changes as recommended in goal one.
At times during the boundary study process, community feedback has been conflicting. Within the proposed changes, the Board is now considering are recommendations in contrast to some of our community who have taken the time to provide feedback through various platforms. Our consultants, Board, and leadership are aware of how conflicting feedback and contrasting results can be perceived as non-responsiveness. However, all feedback and input were considered by MGT Consulting and KSD Leadership, including January 13, 2021, public hearing comments, even if not all requests could be accommodated.