Board Meeting Highlights 2019-2020

Video Meeting Archive

  • Board meeting recording began on March 10, 2020.

June 23, 2020

The Board heard a presentation from Incoming Superintendent Raquel Rose on the important work currently being done to guide the District’s Roadmap to Reopening. A multi-disciplinary team has formed, composed of teachers, staff, administrators, board members, and parents focused on ensuring that our schools are safe and adequately prepared for a school start on August 25th. Apart from a steering committee, there are subcommittees on Safety, Instruction, and Wellness. Stay abreast of the team’s progress and raise any questions/concerns by tuning into the weekly Superintendent Office Hours with Raquel on Thursdays from 4-5 p.m. and by attending our monthly School Board Meetings. The Superintendent Office Hours and School Board Meetings are both recorded if you cannot attend live in person.

The board approved a second Essential Protective Equipment (EPE) proposal not to exceed $74,769 for purchases of safety materials and supplies for the 2020-21 school year. Raquel highlighted the June 18th guidelines from the Marin County Public Health Department and the Marin County Office of Education, A Public Health Guided Return to Site Based Instruction (Spanish version) and emphasized that the guidelines give us maximum flexibility with serving students directly on site, but are simply guardrails for our planning, which is still in process.

At this time the KSD staff are still digesting the latest County Public Health guidance and will take into account feedback from all our stakeholders to inform what is best for our KSD community. The Board agreed with Raquel’s recommendation to carefully and methodically outline an instructional plan collaboratively with our stakeholders that embraces the necessary safety protocols outlined by Public Health while offering an educational program that is conducive for all of our students, teachers, and staff.

The Board encouraged all members of our community to tune into the weekly school community updates from County Public Health Director Dr. Matt Willis on Thursdays at 9 AM that will continue throughout July. They are also recorded if you cannot join live in person.

The Board expressed sincere appreciation to the teachers and staff from Bacich and Kent for the very touching and meaningful 4th Grade Promotion and 8th Grade Graduation ceremonies for students and their families. Board members acknowledged how much planning and heartfelt consideration went into the preparation of the festivities and the gratitude felt by our entire community who participated.

Finally, the board expressed gratitude to Incoming Superintendent, Raquel Rose, who graciously agreed to transition a couple weeks early into her new role in the KSD. We wish Liz well in her next chapter, and welcome Raquel to our district in a full time capacity on her official start date of July 1st.

June 9, 2020

At its meeting this week, the Board of Trustees and entire school community honored members of three employee groups, reiterating the Strategic Planning goal of attracting, retaining and inspiring teachers and staff who hold high expectations for all our students.

People retiring or leaving the district: Liz Schott, Sally Peck, Lisa Cicurel-Jones, Nancy Kaneshiro, Sandy Hendsch, Malina Akau, Methinee Bozeman, Mari Dannecker, Diane Darow, Alexandra Dorsaneo, Tina Perdices, Kelly Steers, Christy Stocker, and Fran Yang.

Additionally, the 2020 Golden Bell recipients were celebrated:

Gretchen Harris, Sandy Hendsch, Jill Klima, and Marty Ross.

Lastly, teachers receiving tenure were congratulated:

Erin Early, Maryelle Gore, Amber Hatfield, Farah Maisonneuve, Margaret Rogers and Laurel Yrun.

Incoming Superintendent Raquel Rose presented slides outlining the progress being made throughout the district on preparations for next school year. She is holding office hours on Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. throughout the summer to keep communication flowing. In addition, the group working on plans for returning to school in August would like your input, and have prepared surveys in Spanish and in English to gather it. Please lend your voice and experience to this important effort by completing one survey for each of your children at Kent and Bacich. The deadline is Tuesday, June 16.

District Business Official Kirsten Starsiak presented the proposed 2020-21 district budget for the required annual public hearing. A final budget approval will be voted on at the June 23rd Board Meeting.

May 12, 2020

The School Board and Kentfield School District community welcomed Raquel Rose as its new Superintendent, effective July 1. See Raquel’s welcome letter and bio here. Wendy Holmes, the new K-8 Assistant Principal was also introduced and given accolades by several members of the hiring committee. Raquel, Wendy, and incoming Bacich Principal Mary Ann Spitzer have begun to work with their outgoing counterparts to ensure a smooth transition. The Board and community will say goodbye and express appreciation to all retiring and departing staff at its June 9 meeting.

A committee comprised of over 20 staff members had its initial meeting on Tuesday to begin the work of planning for a return to school in August, 2020. Representatives of all departments and employment classifications sorted themselves into seven categories of focus: instruction, governance, wellness, health, operations, facilities, and technology. The committee will meet weekly to ensure preparedness for whatever the return to school looks like. If you have expertise in one of the areas listed, please contact Liz Schott.

The school sites are working diligently on plans for the end-of-year celebrations and start-of-year orientations our students are accustomed to. These include, but may not be limited to: 4th grade promotion and 8th grade graduation; 4th grade step up day; Kindergarten sneak peek; and parent welcomes. This newsletter will be the source of updates on these plans.

Chief Business Official Kirsten Starsiak updated the Board on the projected state budget, with the caveat that the May revision is being released later in the week and will be much more specific on how the financial crisis will affect school districts.

Beth Rhodes and Klaus Christiansen from the College of Marin updated the Board on current and future construction projects on the campus that impact College Avenue. Questions or concerns may be sent directly to Beth or Klaus.

The terms of School Board members Quoc Tran and David Riedel end in November. They have not yet announced whether or not they will seek reelection. Parties interested in learning more about running for one of the seats will find information on the County website. If you are interested in what a School Board member does, join Board President Heather McPhail Sridharan and me on Tuesday, May 19, at 5:00 p.m. for an orientation session. A zoom address will be sent out that day.

April 14, 2020

The state of the district during this time of crisis was the focus of the School Board Meeting this week. The principals highlighted the distance learning initiatives at their sites, and Christy Chandler of the KSPTA’s Equity and Inclusion Committee discussed the Parent Buddy program that has been developed to assist families in navigating these challenging times. The Board was also brought up to speed on the predicted effects of the coronavirus crisis on school finance in California, none of which are positive. Here is a link to the District Finance Report presented during the meeting.

March 10, 2020

During the Educational Showcase section of the meeting, the Board heard an update from the 1st and 2nd Grade Teams (Lisa Cicurel-Jones, Janeen Swan, Marty Ross and Lindsay Zerzan). The Kent Math Department also presented the results from their math curriculum pilot over the past year and explained their rationale for their decision. The new curriculum will be fully implemented in the 6th-8th grades in the 2020-21 school year.

The Board heard a report from the Board Policy Committee about their recent meetings regarding AR 6142.92 Math Instruction. After a robust discussion with district staff, teachers, and parents present, the Board directed the Policy Committee to make changes to the current AR and present an updated Math Instruction AR at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on April 14th.

February 11, 2020

In lieu of the typical Board Meeting Highlights format, the KSD Board instead prepared this February 13th letter to the community describing the process and results of expenditure reductions for the 2020-21 school year which took place during the February 11th board meeting.

January 14, 2020

At its meeting on Tuesday, the School Board learned about student assessment in the Language Arts classes at Kent, and how certain grading practices are enabling students to improve their work by pinpointing feedback. Teachers Julie Gallagher and Christy Stocker were joined by two sixth grade students in this presentation of rubrics and feedback forms being used to help students take responsibility for their own growth in reading and writing.

Bacich Principal Sally Peck announced her retirement after 16 extraordinary years as that school’s leader. Sally’s tenure at Bacich began in 2004 when there were fewer than 500 students. She shepherded the campus through its period of 700+ enrollment and the recent construction projects which tested every aspect of Bacich’s patience and tolerance. Sally’s steady hand at the helm was key to our being able to finish those projects on time and within budget. Through massive curricular developments such as Common Core, to the advent of Transitional Kindergarten, to the maker revolution, Sally has been a step ahead and shoulders above the rest. Bacich has been an example to other schools, and Sally a mentor to innumerable administrators throughout the county. We will celebrate her many contributions to the district at the end of this school year.

Right before Winter Break, Bacich and Kent received wonderful holiday gifts from Mollie Stone’s – checks in the amount of $5000 each! Bacich will be using their funds to augment leveled libraries in the classrooms, and Kent plans to put its funds to use on copies of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the visit by William Kamkwamba, and a mural planned to highlight the themes in the book.

Mollie Stones Donation to Kent Middle School
Mollie Stone's Donation to Bacich

December 10, 2019

Sixth grade science students presented the Board with a recap of their engineering unit in which they employed Next Generation Science Standards to create and test model cars under the guidance of teachers Alison Griffin and Ron Pembleton. The students described their process and answered Board members’ questions in small groups and demonstrated the performance top producing cars on a slantboard.

The first written version of a draft strategic plan was presented. Several members of the group who met in October to brainstorm and prioritize goals for the next three to five years were in attendance. They asked questions and offered suggestions to the writing team that will bring a next draft to the Board at its January meeting. It was mentioned that this document is important for the process of selecting the District’s next Superintendent.

The first interim budget report was presented by District Business Official Kirsten Starsiak. The district was able to certify to the county that we can meet our financial obligations for the next three years only after reducing $1 million in expenditures in next year’s projected budget.

The board will be soliciting feedback for how to significantly decrease expenditures in time to produce a balanced 2020-21 budget.

To that end, there is a meeting on Monday, December 16 in the district office from 7:00-8:00 p.m. to present this information to any interested parties. Volunteers will be solicited to participate in Finance Committee meetings through the month of January that will result in a menu of recommended cuts for the Board’s consideration at its February meeting.

November 12, 2019

Seventh grade teacher Stephanie Blasek represented the social studies department at Kent with an educational showcase for the Board at its November meeting on Tuesday. Stephanie showed the Board how students are taught about the reliability of source material through the use of popular culture references such as The Simpsons. She also provided a largely positive early assessment of the new social studies curriculum published by National Geographic.

District Business Official Kirsten Starsiak reported on Measure A Parcel Tax revenues and expenditures ($4,374,964) for fiscal year 2018-2019. Measure A enables the district to: maintain core academic programs, including math, science, reading and writing; attract and maintain highly-qualified teachers; maintain hands-on science and technology instruction; keep school libraries open and retain school librarians; support art, music and PE programs; and prevent class sizes from increasing to 30 or more students. An independent oversight committee comprised of local community members reviews the use of the parcel tax funds annually to ensure the funds are spent as promised.

Work continues on the new Strategic Plan, the vital components of which were drafted over two days in late October with 40 district stakeholders. A subset of that group is taking all of the notes that were generated in that initial planning session and creating a draft written document that will be discussed at the December 10 regular Board meeting. All participants in the October meetings are welcome to participate in this discussion, as are any interested members of the school district community.

Larry Chu, Vice Mayor of the Larkspur City Council, and member of the Marin County Council of Mayors and Councilmembers presented the group’s 2019 report on public employee pensions and post employment liabilities. The importance of preparing for expected substantial increases in retirement benefits was emphasized in the report.

The Board unanimously voted to enter into a contract with Leadership Associates for the Superintendent Search. All stakeholders will be engaged in this process. Opportunities for involvement will be announced in the newsletter.

October 15, 2019

At its regular October meeting on Tuesday, the Board of Trustees thanked and recognized the custodial and maintenance staff at Bacich and Kent. Over the past three years, as the district underwent extensive construction, which involved multiple classroom moves, a complete change of furniture, and more literal heavy lifting; our crew of seven under the leadership of Paul Miller have done the impossible – with a smile on their faces. We so appreciate Medhanie Gebremichael, Carlos Hernandez, Kris Kuivenhoven, Jose Quintanilla, Jimmy Roque, and Jesus Zamorano. We would be lost without them.

The Library teachers at Kent and Bacich presented their programs. Susan Warnick, with the help of four fourth grade Library Pages, gave an overview of book awards, searching for a book, and interviewing for Heritage Day. Rebecca Jelen and a seventh grade student updated the Board on the broadcast class now being produced in the Library as well as other enhancements such as Battle of the Books and author visits.

The Trustees discussed Board Policy 6141.3 – Religious Observances, which was reworked last year but which continues to be confusing to teachers when scheduling tests and homework around religious holidays. Parents should be aware that observing a religious holiday is an excused absence, and any work scheduled during that holiday may be made up by students. In the case of holidays that are not school days off, it is the responsibility of the parent to communicate with the teacher about the student’s absence. The errors that were made this year have been addressed with staff, and a renewed commitment to getting this right next year was made by administration. The district apologizes for any distress students experienced as a result of having tests or homework scheduled around a religious holiday.

September 10, 2019

At its regular meeting on September 10, 2019, the Board joined the entire KSD staff in wishing our Chief Business Official Barbara Johnson farewell as she leaves us to enjoy retirement. Barbara has worked in Kentfield since 1998, starting as an instructional aide in Kindergarten, second grade, third grade, and the Bacich Library, then in the business office. Speakers honored Barbara’s dedication, attention to detail, work ethic, calm demeanor, and kindness. Kirsten Starsiak – who will be stepping into Barbara’s impressive shoes – was welcomed by the Board.

Also introduced at the meeting were new Kent teacher Diane Darrow and Kent counselor Diana Bokaie. Calder Gilliam, seventh grade Science teacher, and Tina Perdices, Bacich School Psychologist, were also welcomed.

The start of school was by all measures a great success. Those who doubted whether or not Bacich would actually be able to open on September 3, 2019 were happily surprised when, in fact, classrooms and common areas were buttoned up, clean, newly furnished, and ready for students! The maintenance and custodial staff on both campuses have been with us through the Kent and Bacich projects, and we literally could not have been successful without them. We are deeply indebted to them for their dedication and hard work.

Laurie Durnell of The Grove Consultants International gave the Board an overview of what to expect when Strategic Planning takes place on October 17 and 18, 2019. She presented examples of templates used in the process and a general road map. This exciting process is still in need of participants, both teachers and parents. We have extended the deadline for letting us know of your interest. Please email by next Friday, September 20, 2019 to be considered.