Three candidates are vying for the District No. 4 director position on the Kent School Board in the Aug. 1 primary. Bryon Madsen and Denise Daniels are challenging incumbent Agda Burchard for the four-year term.
The top two vote-getters will move on to the Nov. 7 general election.
Burchard has served on the Kent School Board since 2012 and became active in the district when her daughter, a KSD graduate, started kindergarten in 2002. She works for the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Burchard said she is dedicated to district’s mission mission of successfully preparing all students for their futures.
“I want to make it possible for each and every student in the Kent School District to graduate as globally competitive learners ready for success in college, career and community life,” she said.
Burchard’s top priorities as a school board member are community engagement and fiscal responsibility.
“KSD needs to do a better job of engaging parents, students, staff and community members in two-way communications focused on equity and excellence,” she said. “To increase two-way communication with students, I initiated and coordinate an annual trip to Olympia for KSD students to meet and advocate with legislators and other elected officials. To further increase student voice in policy making, I arranged for another school board to come to Kent to share about having student reps on their board.”
Madsen, and his wife, Sheila, are the parents of five children, including four Kent School District graduates. Madsen works in wealth management.
Two major issues led to Madsen’s decision to run for the school board.
First, was a spending freeze enacted by district in April citing no funding from the 2012 McCleary decision and lower-than-expected enrollment
“While we all hope something positive comes from it, to count on something that has not been funded since 2012 is irresponsible,” Madsen said of McCleary.
Also in April, the school board decided not to allow international field trips for students – including one planned to Canada by the Kentlake High School music program – citing the current political environment and giving equal access to all students.
“The requirements to travel into Canada and back into the United States have not changed since June 2009,” Madsen said.
The district needs to take into account teacher, student and parent concerns when making decisions, Madsen said.
“Unfortunately, since my decision to run, it has been more of the same with last minute and surprising decisions to eliminate music programs in some of the schools and changes in the calendar and bell schedule,” he said.
Daniels is the assistant director of equity, outreach and engagement for the Auburn School District. She and her husband live in Covington and have seven children, ages 12 to 28.
“I believe that the work that I have done with districts in the past several years gives me a perspective that can help address these disparities and increase outcomes for our students,” Daniels said of her decision to run.
Top issues facing the district include recent budget cuts, a significant schedule change and disappointing graduation rates, Daniels said, but “the most prevalent is a lack of or very late communication to families and staff. I understand that there are times when difficult decisions need to happen, but transparency and communication are critical to preserving trust with the families and community. Just looking at the KSD Facebook page comments and recent school board meeting comments shows that currently many of our families are very unhappy with the latest decisions that have been made and are calling for change.”