Interim Superintendent Israel Vela swears in Kent School Board members Tim Clark, far left; Awale Farah and Joe Bento on Dec. 8 at the regular board meeting. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Interim Superintendent Israel Vela swears in Kent School Board members Tim Clark, far left; Awale Farah and Joe Bento on Dec. 8 at the regular board meeting. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Clark, Farah, Bento sworn in as Kent School Board members

Two new directors on five-member board as Daniels, Vengadasalam depart

Tim Clark, Awale Farah and Joe Bento were sworn in as Kent School Board directors after winning in the November election.

Clark previously served on the board for four years after voters elected him in 2009. Prior to that, he served 16 years on the Kent City Council.

“I’m really pleased to be returning to the Kent School Board,” Clark said after the swearing in at the Dec. 8 regular board meeting. “I stand before you with 38 years of classroom experience, 28 in the school district as I finished my career at Kentridge High and another 10 at the community college. My professional life has driven me to care deeply about my community and the meaning of education in it and I am here to basically carry on that task.”

Clark replaced Maya Vengadasalam, who decided not to seek reelection after eight years on the board representing District 5.

Interim Superintendent Israel Vela thanked Vengadasalam for her service at the board meeting.

“Maya and her husband became involved in KSD when their son was in kindergarten 1996,” Vela said. “Her legacies are numerous and include legislative advocacy, fiscal oversight and community engagement.”

Farah replaced Denise Daniels, who didn’t run again after four years in office as the District 4 representative.

“As a Kent resident of 20 years, all four of my children graduated from this district and I care deeply about what we leave behind,” Farah said. “I took an oath to be the father of more than 25,000 kids. I take that seriously. I want to thank those who voted for me and those who didn’t because I will serve the community and the district at large.”

Farah also had a message for Vela, in an interim role since replacing Calvin Watts who left last summer to take a superintendent job in Georgia.

“I want to let you know when I say this I mean it from the bottom of my heart, we want to make sure you understand you have a friend here and I will let you know we appreciate you,” Farah said.

Vela earlier had a comment about Daniels, who served as president the past year.

“The legacy of Denise’s impact in KSD includes not only her children but her commitment as an educational leader, advocate for the student voice and her commitment to equity and education,” Vela said.

The board appointed Bento in February to replace Leah Bowen, who resigned in December 2020. Bento ran unopposed in the November election.

“I look forward to continuing the work I’ve done,”Bento said. “I am here for the students and to do the work for the students.”

The five-member board voted Leslie Hamada as president, Bento as vice president and Farah as the legislative representative for 2022. Director Michele Bettinger also sought to be president.

“I love the school district and this community,” Hamada said. “I’ve pretty much dedicated my life since I retired from professional life to work for the community and I would like to continue that. We have many, many challenges ahead of us and I’m up to the challenge.”

Among the challenges are finding a new superintendent to hire for the 2022-2023 school year and getting voters to approve a two-year replacement educational programs and operations levy on the Feb. 8 ballot.

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