CommuKnighty Connection meetings bring new ideas for the district


Dawn Gould

Superintendent Greg Sears chatting with parents at the Sweets with the Supe event in August

Parent volunteers have been hosting CommuKnighty (Community) Connection gatherings in their homes and neighborhood clubhouses, inviting neighbors and community members to chat with superintendent Greg Sears about thoughts and ideas towards the future of the district. 

The safe environments allow for the event to be personal and open to deep conversations, rather than the small meet-and-greets someone might expect where they could only give small compliments or two-cent ideas.

“I went to the very first one,” Kings parent and teacher aid Lysa Knight said. “It was way back, I want to say, end of August, beginning of September. There were a ton of people there. I was a little bit surprised just because I tend to know quite a few people in the community and I didn’t really know a lot of the people that were there. Which I thought was amazing because that means we’re hitting people that we don’t normally hit.”

Elizabeth Burge volunteered to host the first Connection after talking with Sears about rebooting the Kings Schools Foundation. As people filled her home, small conversations and greetings were shared, and once everyone settled, the event began with an icebreaker where community members could choose certain images that represented Kings from their point of view.

“You had to pick a photo and then you had to talk about it. I can’t remember exactly how it was worded to be honest, but you had to choose based on where you wanted to see Kings in 10 years,” Knight said. “So I picked a rearview mirror because I said that I wanted Kings to be a jumping point for kids as they move forward. And whatever the next steps are, whether they’re going to go to college or not, or they’re going to go straight into the workforce or the military or whatever they choose, I wanted them to look back fondly at their memories of Kings and then give them a good board to jump off of, basically.”

Hot topics discussed at the first event were overpopulation, building constraints, and the desire for more learning opportunities for students.

“​​I think that we do a fantastic job of taking lemons and making lemonade and I think that we find every nook and cranny that is available and try to make the best possible use of it that we can,” Knight said. “I think that the experience that students had in the buildings 10 years ago are not the same as what you guys are having now. I mean, we’re clearly bursting at the seams and we’re gonna need to make a change sooner rather than later.”

Assistant superintendent Tim Spinner admits that it’s consistently at the forefront of his mind as the Director of Human Resources and Business Operations, including the overpopulation at the high school.

“My numbers may not be 100% accurate here, but you’re looking at a building [KHS] that was built for 800 students, and we’re over almost like 1400, if I’m not mistaken. None of them [our graduating classes] are in the two hundreds anymore. They’re all over 300. So you’re looking at 300 times four is at least 1200 Students. 400 students over what the building was originally designed to educate,” Spinner said. “So that’s definitely a concern. I met a lot of community members and parents who want the best education possible. So it’s exciting to hear that and it reinforces the answer that I give prospective teachers around community support. And I’ve met a lot of people who are going to step up and assist with making that [happen].”

Space constraints also decrease the amount of learning students gain from their school experience, including their organization and social skills. Burge remarked that her sixth grade son getting a locker this year was a large lesson in organization, especially when other students might get that experience beforehand.

“So my sixth grade son, this is his first year having a locker because he was at J.F. Burns, had never had a locker. J.F. Burns is so crowded so they don’t use lockers for all the kids and he’s just never had one. All his stuff was kept in this classroom on the back of his seat, and when they switched classes, they had to bring their backpack and their coat everywhere they went,” Burge said. “So this has been a fascinating year for him, he’s like, ‘I have a locker with a combination,’ it was a big deal. He’s probably going to be underprepared to go to the junior high because he’s going to be switching classes more frequently, and he has to remember to get what he needs to go to different classes.”

Another important part of the CommuKnighty Connections is an emphasis on reaching out to members of the community that aren’t able to be as active or be able to speak up by giving them the dedicated time and place.

“In my neighborhood, I seem to get a lot of questions about things because we’re from this area, so a lot of people come to us. I felt like I would have a pretty good turnout and we know we have kids in a lot of different schools, so we have a lot of connections and varying schools,” Burge said. “And when I was trying to come up with my invite list, I was trying to pull from every school building so we would at least get opinions and thoughts from every area in the district. If you have kids in the school, I think you’re pretty connected, or you can be connected if you want to be. But I think for those that maybe don’t have kids in the district, maybe their kids go to private school, or they don’t have kids in school. I think it can be harder for those people to connect.”

As Burge explains, a lack of connection can change the amount of support that goes towards the schools, and it adds up to the lack of funding towards the students’ futures.

“I feel like it’s easy for people to say, ‘I don’t want to support the schools, because I don’t have anything in schools.’ You don’t have a reason to support them. But really, we live in a community so we should all be working together to support one another, regardless of where you are in life. So even if you don’t have kids, you should be supporting the next generation,” Burge said.

By connecting through the CommuKnighty Connections and receiving feedback, administrators can produce new solutions to long-discussed problems and move the district forward. For details about how to volunteer to host a Connection, one can fill out the contact form.

“It’s reemphasized for me to keep the great community support that we have. It’s reemphasized for me that the community is very knowledgeable. It reemphasized for me the strengths and opportunities that we have are similar to what we are thinking as an administrative staff,” Spinner said. “And so I’m encouraged by the conversations we’re having because I think our community is very much in the know as to what we’re trying to achieve and how they can support and assist with us reaching our goals as a school district. I’m excited. It’s a great time to be a knight.”