Calvin Watts says he is proud of what he and the Kent School District team have accomplished during his six years as superintendent.
Watts last week was named the sole finalist to become the next superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools in Suwanee, Georgia, the same district where Watts worked as an assistant superintendent before coming to Kent in 2015.
“The opportunity for my family and I to return to my home state of Washington six years ago and become rooted in the Kent community was a tremendous blessing and opportunity for which I will be forever grateful,” Watts said in a statement released by the district. “I am humbled and honored to return to Gwinnett County, where I grew up professionally. I am proud of what we, Team KSD, have accomplished together in the last six years, and I am confident that the good and meaningful work will continue for many years to come.”
Kent School Board President Denise Daniels praised the work of Watts.
“Dr. Watts’ leadership and commitment to our district are evidenced by our four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate being at an all-time high, the advances of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work, and being selected for this position also speaks volumes about his leadership,” Daniels said in a statement released by the district. “We, in the Kent School District, have been so very fortunate to have a leader with a continual focus on student success, while consistently demonstrating dignity and integrity even when faced with multiple challenges and adversity.
“Dr. Watts will be missed. We wish him and his family well. As a board, we are dedicated to ensuring a smooth and efficient start of the 2021-22 school year and a superintendent search that engages our entire community.”
District officials said they plan to release details in the coming weeks about the transition plan from Watts to a new superintendent. School districts often hire an interim superintendent, as Kent did prior to Watts taking over, before hiring a new leader.
“Dr. Watts continues to serve as our superintendent,” district spokesperson Melissa Laramie said in a July 19 email. “An official last day and transition plan has not yet been finalized. The soonest our board could take action for any personnel changes is at the next scheduled meeting. We have two coming up, previously scheduled, on July 28 and Aug. 4.”
Watts is expected to officially be named the superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools by its school board on July 29 during a special meeting. The board picked him as the sole finalist to replace J. Alvin Wilbanks.
“During my six-year tenure in Kent, we pursued academic excellence and overcame organizational challenges together,” Watts said. “As a result, our Class of 2020 on-time graduation rates continued a trend of improvement and historic gains, including an 87.8% on-time graduation rate for all students, 81.4% for our Hispanic/Latino students, 87.6% for our white students, 90.8% for our Black/African American students, and 91.8% for our Asian students.
“In addition, we made equity-based decisions that centered around the direct needs of our students. Equally important, we conducted district business with integrity and transparency. We never wavered even amidst the most extraordinary year-and-a-half of our educational careers.”
Watts survived two controversial 3-2 votes by the Kent School Board over the last year to extend his contract. The most recent vote was in June.
Watts worked for 13 years in the Gwinnett County Public Schools prior to coming to Kent.
“I am confident that our KSD Executive Leadership Team will work together with the KSD Board and rise to the occasion to ensure a smooth and efficient start of the 2021-22 school year,” Watts said.
Kent’s first day of school is Aug. 26.