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Kent parents petitioning for school superintendent to resign

Parents are petitioning for Dr. Calvin Watts to resign as Kent School District Superintendent. (Photo: KOMO News)

KENT, Wash. – Parents are petitioning for Dr. Calvin Watts to resign as Kent School District Superintendent.

The online petition surpassed 400 signatures on Tuesday.

“I think parents are fed up. The schools are doing more with less. And it doesn’t seem to be explained,” said Michele Bettinger, who filed a consumer complaint with the attorney general saying state funds were being mismanaged by the district.

In August, the district announced it ended the 2016-2017 school year nearly $7 million in the deficit.

A spokesperson for the district declined an interview on Tuesday but said, “A five-percent minimum ending fund balance is what is required by board policy and what we are working to restore not just for one year but for years to come, but it will not be realized this fiscal year ending in August 2018.”

Kent teachers are concerned with a lack of transparency in how the budget is balancing out.

“Our teachers are beyond frustrated at this point. They are angry, they want answers, and they want accountability,” said Christie Padilla, president of the Kent Education Association.

Padilla said she’s expecting thousands of teachers to attend Wednesday’s union meeting.

The district announced 127 staff cuts in March before rescinding the cuts when Governor Inslee signed SB 6362, which allocated $75 million to the Kent school district.

“The layoffs were a surprise, the no-layoffs were a surprise, and they haven’t given me any indication where those cuts will be made,” said Padilla, who added that some teachers took jobs in other districts after the initial cuts were announced.

The district is eliminating sixty positions through attrition at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, which they say should help offset expected revenue loss the next two years.

“We know this is personal to those staff impacted by the reductions and reorganization and we are prepared to support our staff,” said a district spokesperson in a statement.

Parents told KOMO News a group is planning to rally outside the district offices on Wednesday.

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