Community Budget Forum Well Attended, School Board Absent

Approximately 100 parents, community members, union members, and others concerned about the current Kent School District budget and recent layoffs attended the Community Budget Forum tonight at Daniel Elementary School.   Based upon those who stood when asked, about half the audience were members of KEA and other employee unions in the Kent School District, while the other half were parents, community group representatives, and community members. 

The Forum presented detailed information about the Kent School District’s budget, spending patterns, and comparisons to other districts in the region.  Additionally, a Question &Answer session provided further insight into the state of finances in Kent.  The presentation was given by Andrea Hardy, a budget analyst and expert on school district budgets for the Washington Education Association.  Multiple guests of honor attended, including representatives from several community groups and State Senator Claudia Kauffman of the 47th District.   Those in attendance were asked to contact the School Board to raise questions or voice their opinions to the Board, so that the KSD’s budget priorities will be changed to put kids first in Kent.

Conspicuously absent from the presentation was the KSD School Board and Superintendent Vargas, who were invited to the meeting previously, but declined to come!  Ironically, the Board and Dr. Vargas decided instead to meet with the Citizens’ Budget Review Committee for a work session.  Members of the CBRC had offered to postpone or cancel their meeting in order to hear what Ms. Hardy had to say, but District administrators insisted that they meet elsewhere as scheduled.  This was a shame, since many important questions and relevant comments were made at the Budget Forum that the Board and Dr. Vargas should have been in attendance to hear.  

Pictures and additional details about the Budget Forum will be posted in the next few days on this blog.  The slides from Ms. Hardy’s presentation will also be made available on the Kent Education Association website soon.  Keep checking back with this blog for updates, and forward this information to anyone you know that cares about kids in this community.

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3 Responses to “Community Budget Forum Well Attended, School Board Absent”

  1. Brooke Valentine Says:

    I thought the Budget Forum had a lot of good information and I am glad that I went. I think what I learned is that Kent has a long history of being Fiscally conservative when planning the budget for the school year. This isn’t a bad thing. But I do think we need to look into this, cuts are never good for our kids and it might be a good idea to loosen our purse strings a bit to better meet the needs of the students during these tough economic times. I feel that your blog post is a bit jaded against the school board. The citizens budget review committee had the work session on the calendar with the board long ago. That event was planned first. Its true, I did ask the CBRC to postpone the meeting, however the members of the CBRC made the decision to move ahead as scheduled. I also asked if the KEA could change the date or time of the Budget Forum. So both the CBRC and the KEA where asked to change, but neither could. I understand and think it is a non-issue that both meetings went forward as they were originally planned. Not to mention that the School Board did have a work Session with the KEA and saw the same presentation with Mrs. Hardy at an earlier time. I feel like you your blog post could be great if you were to just change the tittle a bit and delete the entire 3rd paragraph. Looking forward to seeing Mrs. Hardy’s slides and advocating for a KSD budget that really meets the needs of our students.

  2. KSD teacher Says:

    I applaud Andrea for her clear and precise presentation. It was easy to understand and well attended. Kudos for KEA for trying to educate the public on budget issues. There are two sides to every story.

  3. Thankful Says:

    I also applaud KEA for their transparency and astuteness when it comes to understanding this complex budget of KSD. I thought the presenter was very clear and very candid. She answered all the questions honestly and gave credit to Knutson for his ability to predict revenue so well. However, knowing that he can be pretty damn accurate, makes me believe he also knows the end balance as well. He may not be within a few hundred dollars, but I think he knows more than he appears to not know, especially in light of all the ” extras” (i.e. trainings, etc) KSD plans for their administrators.

    What do tax payers want to see for their children? More administrative positions and high salaries, or programs that will help their children? I personally believe that to cut any music program or librarian or counselor position is incomprehensible.

    BTW, the school board could’ve sent one or two of their members to this forum. I think they were afraid to meet the crowd and face questions. That’s my opinion.

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