SCHOOLS

YOUR GOVERNMENT: School board to consider health curriculum, get construction update

Months of work to develop a new health curriculum for elementary students will go before the Salem-Keizer School Board to approve on Tuesday, March 14.

The curriculum is intended to meet new state standards, according to a briefing memo provided to the board. Seven pilot schools tried out elements of the new program in the fall, with open houses for parents to learn about the class work.

The district late last year surveyed parents and staff.

“Individual written feedback showed positive responses for student materials being available in
Spanish to support our studentsā€™ needs and a good connection to parents being able to use the materials at home. A small number of teacher responses reflected that parts of the curriculum were not engaging for their students,” the staff report said.

A steering committee that has been meeting since September is recommending the board adopt the curriculum, which would be used starting in the next school year.

The board also will get an update on school construction projects as the $619 million program nears a finish. The last projects will be started this year, according to a report to the board. The remodels and expansions were funded by a bond measure approved by voters.

“During 2022, the program continued to experience significant pandemic-related delays in procuring some materials, such as electrical components, windows and structural steel,” the report said. “Subcontractor shortages have also challenged many projects.”

The report said that “the bidding market remained volatile and many contractors’ bids were inflated to cover losses from previous year.” As a result, five small projects scheduled to start in 2022 have been delayed.

“The West Salem High School project has experienced the most significant challenges in the program,” the report said. “Supply chain issues, staffing challenges, complexities from the design and the site have affected completion of the classroom addition.”

That classroom work was finally completed last month and work to convert four classrooms into science labs is expected this summer. The West Salem work, budgeted at $34 million, was to be completed last fall.

In other action Tuesday, the board will consider approving $237,000 in grants to the Career Technical Education Center and the six high schools for career education equipment and supplies, $70,000 for McKay High School for a “BIPoC instructional coach” to serve the district’s diverse community of educators, and $20,000 to family night programs at Stephens and Leslie Middle Schools.

READ IT: SCHOOL BOARD AGENDA

To participate: The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 14. 

The board will meet in person, but members of the public may only attend virtually.

Citizens can sign up for in-person or virtual public comment before the meeting starts until 3 p.m. Monday, using an online form. Those who sign up to comment in person will be notified if they are selected to appear.

The meeting will be streamed on CC:Media, channel 21, and on YouTube in English and in Spanish.

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Les Zaitz is editor and CEO of Salem Reporter. He co-founded the news organization in 2018. He has been a journalist in Oregon for nearly 50 years in both daily and community newspapers and digital news services. He is nationally recognized for his commitment to local journalism. He also is editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon.