Update, June 14
Salem-Keizer School Board directors unanimously approved the district’s $1.3 billion budget for the coming school year at a meeting Tuesday night. Nobody spoke at the public hearing ahead of the vote.
Board Vice Chair Maria Hinojos Pressey and Director Marty Heyen were absent. The meeting would have been Heyen’s last as her term on the school board ends June 30.
Superintendent Christy Perry said district leaders revised the budget to add 10.5 full-time elementary school teachers and about nine classified classroom support employees. The cost of those positions, about $1.5 million, were taken from support positions that were either vacant or had people retiring. Perry made the change in response to a budget committee vote at their May 22 meeting directing her to add $1.5 million toward instructional positions.
The budget assumes a $9.9 billion state school fund, below the level district administrators say is needed to maintain current operations. Perry said if the Oregon Legislature passes a $10.2 billion state school fund, as legislative leaders have suggested, the district would get about $7 million more next year. Other policy proposals being considered in the legislature could add to the district’s costs, Perry said.
Board directors selected Linda Pappas, a rising senior at North Salem High School, and Patrick Hirsig-Gutierrez, a rising senior at South Salem High School as student advisers for the 2023-24 school year.
The board unanimously approved or advanced other agenda items, including the Pride Month Proclamation, climate justice resolution and school board election results.
Correction: This article originally said the board selected only Pappas as student adviser. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.
The Salem-Keizer School Board will vote Tuesday on adopting a conservative budget for the upcoming school year which would cut some district-level teaching mentor positions while leaving the number of teachers and aides in school classrooms constant.
READ IT: AGENDA
The $1.3 billion budget was approved by the district’s budget committee May 22, with an amendment directing Superintendent Christy Perry to move $1.5 million from non-instructional positions to add classroom teachers and aides. The money would be enough to pay salary and benefits for about 15 full-time teachers.
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, at the Student Services Support Center, 2575 Commercial St. S.E.
After months of closed meetings accessible only via livestream, the school board has reopened meetings to in-person public attendance. Superintendent Christy Perry closed meetings in September following a review of an Aug. 9, 2022 board meeting due to escalating political conflict in the parking lot outside.
Anyone can sign up using this form to give public testimony about an item on the agenda or any other topic, though due to high interest, speakers are selected via a lottery and it’s typical that not everyone who wants to speak gets a chance to. Comments can be written or delivered live during the meeting in-person or by calling in. The district’s public comment form is open until 3 p.m. Monday, June 12.
The meeting will be streamed on CC:Media, channel 21, and on YouTube at the links below. American Sign Language interpretation is provided live during the meeting and is viewable on the livestream.
School board directors will first hold a public hearing, then vote on approving the 2023-24 school year budget, which largely keeps existing district programs intact while cutting some positions.
The budget assumes a $9.9 billion state school fund, the main source of funding for the district. It was made before the state’s May revenue forecast predicted the state would collect more in taxes than previously expected, leading legislative leaders to suggest a $10.2 billion state school fund instead.
The legislature is still in session and budget planning has stalled due to the ongoing walkout led by Senate Republicans. If the state approves a higher state school fund, the district would receive more money. District leaders would go back to the school board and ask them to adopt a supplemental budget.
The board will formally accept the results of the May 16, 2023 school board election, where voters elected retiring district administrator Cynthia Richardson and parent Krissy Hudson to serve on the school board. Director Satya Chandragiri, a psychiatrist, was re-elected.
Richardson and Hudson will join the board in July, replacing Marty Heyen and Robert Salazar, who did not run for election.
Board members will select a student adviser for the 2023-24 school year. The position, now in its fourth year, seats a high school student or students as non-voting members on the board. Three current juniors have applied for the seat: Patrick Hirsig‐Gutierrez of South Salem High School, Linda Pappas of North Salem High School, and Tierney Pickett of Sprague High School.
Pride Month proclamation, climate justice
The board will vote on adopting a proclamation declaring June LGBTQ2SIA+ Pride Month, using the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two spirit, intersex and asexual.
The proclamation, written by district employees and students, says “LGBTQ2SIA+ K‐12 students and staff will be able to express themselves authentically and be celebrated for who they are.”
The board will also consider a climate justice resolution which directs the district superintendent to establish a “Climate Crisis Committee.” The committee would be charged with developing recommendations for taking action on climate change within the district’s purview and presenting an action plan to the school board.
Board members will hold a first reading for several new curriculum adoptions for middle school social studies and language arts. A district curriculum committee unanimously recommended Into Literature & Writeable for middle school language arts and TCI: History Alive! for social studies after a nearly year-long process that included piloting material at several schools, public input sessions and recommendations from teachers.
The board would vote on adopting the curricula at a later date.
The board will also hold a first reading of new Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate curriculum items. Both programs are offered at multiple district high schools for students seeking advanced coursework or college credit.
Reports and data
Board members will hear a report from Superintendent Christy Perry, who is retiring at the end of the month. They will also hear a presentation on the district’s equity advisory committee and receive written reports on district data and 2023 graduation.
Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.
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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.