School board to hear long-awaited plan for $35 million in new state funding

The 2019-20 Salem-Keizer School Board (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Salem-Keizer school board members and the public will get a first look Tuesday night at priorities for spending millions in new state money to close educational gaps in the district.

Community volunteers Adriana Miranda, executive director of Causa, and Reginald Richardson, vice president of the Salem-Keizer NAACP, will share priorities from a task force convened by Superintendent Christy Perry last fall.

Their task is to recommend ways to boost school performance for groups of students who lag behind their peers: black, Pacific Islander and Native American students, students from low-income families, with disabilities, learning English or who are homeless or in foster care.

About eight in 10 Salem-Keizer students fall into one of those categories.

Class size reductions will likely be a point of controversy as the plan moves forward. Task force members ranked it a lower priority than many teachers wanted, instead prioritizing items including extracurricular activities for students, staff training and providing more social workers, counselors and therapists for students.

The Salem-Keizer Education Association, which represents about 2,300 teachers and other licensed staff, is asking members to show up en masse to the presentation.

Tuesday’s meeting is only to hear the priorities. Public testimony, and a more detailed plan with specific dollar amounts are still in the works.

After an hour-long presentation, board members will continue with a regular meeting, which will include time for public comment.

They will approve a proclamation for Black History Month and board governance policies, which outline how the board oversees the superintendent and works with the district.

They will read, but not yet vote on, a proposed land sale and separate purchase of land next to North Salem High School as part of the ongoing campus expansion and renovation.

Board members will also hear reports on school construction projects, academic support systems for students, staff recruitment and the superintendent evaluation.

Meeting details: Tuesday, Feb. 11 at the district’s Support Services Center, 2575 Commercial St. S.E. Task force presentation at 6 p.m., regular meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Board members: Marty Heyen, Jesse Lippold, Kathy Goss, Sheronne Blasi, Paul Kyllo, Satya Chandragiri and Danielle Bethell.

Reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.