Sullivan town hall discusses public education

Pat Sullivan - Courtesy photo
Pat Sullivan
— image credit: Courtesy photo

State Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington), House Majority leader and representative for Washington's 47th Congressional District stopped by the Kent School District offices to for a question-and-answer session with his constituents.

While the room was set up for close to 60 people, only nine were able to make the session, including school board member Agda Burchard.

Sullivan said that he was hoping for a larger turnout, but also understands that it's difficult to go sit in a meeting on a sunny Saturday morning. It reflected the difficulty in getting involved with the school district, he said.

"While my kids were in school, I went to one school board meeting," he said to the audience. The key, he says, is to engage citizens on multiple levels, such as door to door canvassing and cold calling.

Of the issues discussed at the meeting, Sullivan wanted to make sure that the problems of early learning and literacy were articulated. His ideas included creating an early learning department to help students in early elementary, as well as advancing continuing education and teacher improvement programs.

After the morning discussion, Sullivan also mentioned areas that the district is currently successful at and areas where it could use improvement. Specifically, he felt that math and english and math deficiencies were too high as well as drop out rates, despite re-engagement programs for students.

Of the constituents who were present, Kirsten Brown, a student teacher at Neely O'Brien, had many ideas on how to improve the district. Her primary concern is ensuring that increased taxes and fees will go directly to the district. If these funds were allocated, she'd prefer them to pay for improved programs that would ease stress on single parents and also provide more opportunities to keep students engaged in the schools.

She cites her own classes as a teenager, where she helped lead inner city youth on outdoors trips, as an example of such programs. She also feels that schools should try to reinvest in skill and artistic programs outside of the typical art and music. She suggests that the district reintegrate programs such as woodworking.

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