COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent School District

COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent School District

Day 5 of Kent teachers’ strike: No school on Wednesday, Aug. 31

District releases class sizes, mental health support details

It doesn’t appear the Kent School District and striking teachers’ union are any closer to a contract agreement.

The Kent School Board on Monday night turned down a staff recommendation to file a lawsuit in an effort to order striking teachers back to work. The board emphasized that both sides need to compromise and reach a settlement. That sent both sides back to the bargaining table on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

But the district announced Tuesday evening that there would be no school on Wednesday, Aug. 31. It will be the fifth day of the strike that has canceled classes at 42 schools and academies that have about 24,000 students and 2,000 teachers.

“We understand the difficulties this strike/work stoppage is causing for our families,” according to the district statement. “We are eager for students to return to school and continue to bargain with the Kent Education Association (KEA) every day, all day for as long as it takes to reach an agreement. It is more important than ever that our children return to school with supports and regular operations.”

The district started a page on the district’s website called Bargaining/work stoppage information, which included the following:

The Kent School District says it is hiring more teaching staff despite a declining enrollment. The district reports average class sizes are well below the limits in the current KEA contract.

• Grades K-3 Class Size

KEA contract: 26 students or less

KSD average: 18 students

• Grades 4-6 Class Size

KEA contract: 29 students or less

KSD average: 21 students

• Grades 7-8 Class Size

KEA contract: 31 students or less

KSD average: 23 students

• Grades 9-12 Class Size

KEA contract: 33 students or less

KSD average: 25 students

Mental health services, supports

Kent School District says it has substantially increased mental and social-emotional health supports for students.

• KSD has committed an additional $2.5 million dollars in mental and social-emotional health for students for the 2022-2023 school year by contracting with outside agencies.

• The state does not provide school districts with specific funds to provide intensive mental health services to students because it is not part of basic education funding. Contracts for mental health services are funded from a variety of sources including grants, state categorical funds, ESSER (federal) funding, and/or local levy dollars.

• School counselors, social workers and nurses do an amazing job of supporting students’ social emotional needs, however they are not licensed to perform intensive mental health services.

• In February 2022, KSD used ESSER funds to pilot teletherapy services in response to the mental health care shortage and the difficulty of filling mental health vacancies.

• Many families seek mental health services for their children independent of the school district. KSD recognizes the need for mental health services and has invested in community partnerships to provide these services to our students.

• In-person mental health counseling services have been allocated to all secondary schools for the 2022-23 school year.

• All schools are able to refer families to Washington Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens (seattlechildrens.org). This service helps families navigate insurance and find support to meet their child’s treatment needs.

• Currently, the district employs approximately 16 more nurses than funded by the state.

Union response to district post

The Kent Reporter reached out Tuesday night to the KEA for comment but did not yet receive a response to the district post.

This marks the second time since the strike began that district communications staff has posted specific details about the contract. On Sunday, Aug. 28, the district released salary information for teachers.

The union has emphasized the primary issues as pay increases, more mental health support for students, smaller class size and lower caseloads for special ed and other positions.

Boyce issues statement about dispute

Kent City Councilmember Bill Boyce, who also is a State Senate candidate and a former Kent School Board member, issued a statement Tuesday about the contract dispute between the school district and the teachers’ union.

“As a former school board president, I know first hand how difficult it can be to work through negotiations,” Boyce said. “It takes a lot of patience from both parties and a willingness to compromise. More than anything, it requires we remember it is the students who are the priority.

“Over the last two years, teachers, parents, and students have been put through the wringer. Teachers have had to develop an entirely new way of teaching, while parents and students have had to adjust to a new way of learning and communicating. It has been a challenge for everyone.

“With that being said we need to find a way to allow students to be in school and teachers to feel supported. I encourage the union and the school district to burn the midnight oil in their negotiations and come to a equitable agreement. Kids want to be in school, teachers want to be in classrooms, and parents want a return to stability that has been missing for two years.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

t
Police bust mother, daughter in Kent for retail crime spree

Two reportedly joined one other woman in 3-state crime ring taking women’s clothing from Lululemon

t
Reith Road in Kent to get two new roundabouts this year

City Council approves $4.28 million bid; project to start in late May or early June

t
Puget Sound Fire’s Teddy Bear Clinic set for May 18 in Kent

Annual event provides free checkups for teddy bears and children

t
Overturned military vehicle causes I-5 backup near Kent, Federal Way

Wednesday, April 10 in northbound lanes near South 272nd Street

t
Kent Police Blotter: March 26 to April 7

Incidents include robberies, burglaries, shooting

t
State Patrol seek witnesses to I-5 hit-and-run crash in Kent

Collision at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, April 8 along northbound I-5 near State Route 516

t
Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent turns profit for 2nd consecutive year

City-owned facility brings in about $600,000 in 2023

Kent Police recovered nearly 800 catalytic converters in a 2021 bust. File photo
New state legislation fights catalytic converter theft

Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill on March 26 adding new regulations… Continue reading

t
Firefighting Diversity & Recruitment Workshop set for May 11 in Kent

Event designed to help potential candidates get jobs

t
Kentwood High grad’s legacy of love lives on through organ donation

Madeline Goldsmith one of 344 organ donors honored by Gov. Jay Inslee in Olympia

Flowers, framed photos, plush toys and a QR code to the GoFundMe pages of the families grace the memorial site after the March 19 crash. Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing.
Judge, lawyers debate low bail for Kent driver in fatal Renton crash

Judge explains reduction from $1 million to $100,000, which was posted by family of Chase Jones

t
Prosecutors prepare to take over 2021 fatal police shooting case

Valley SWAT shot man in response to 2021 Algona incident