School board stays quiet on potential programs to return with levy

The Kent School District has remained hush-hush about potential programs it will renew with funds granted by the Feb. 11 voter-approved maintenance and operations levy voters.

While the district marketed the levy on the promise of returning old programs and providing new opportunities to schools, school officials have yet to provide concrete examples of what the board plans on doing with the new money.

"We are not prepared to give specifics of how those dollars will be spent at this point as the budgeting process for the coming school year is in its early stages," said Chris Loftis, the district's executive director of communications and school/community partnerships. "To comment here on a specific line item might impact the options the school board will have when they review all of the requests, needs and requirements."

The board is reviewing programs based on three cost questions: how much a program would cost each year; programs that were cut along with budget cuts; and the costs of adding new programs.

Kent School Board vice president Karen DeBruler said that much of the discussion among board members on programs has been speculative.

"I don't want to say anything because if I say something and that's put out there, then people will think, 'well, that's the way it is,'" DeBruler said.

DeBruler explained that any program decision will have to be considered and planned in advance, so discussion has been limited until formal forums are opened to the public. The board hopes to begin discussions as early as Wednesday's meeting. From there, the board will solicit ideas at less formal community meetings and use surveys to gauge Kent's interest in programs.

"We've got to figure out budget wise what we can afford," DeBruler said. "We've got innovations that we want to expand or some new things that we hope to put in place that will really be good for our student achievement. Those things could be brought forward to us in the next couple years, they could be brought forward now."

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