UPDATE: Salem-Keizer board approves middle school curricula, elects new chair

UPDATE, Wednesday, July 12:

Directors of the Salem-Keizer School Board unanimously selected Karina Guzmán Ortiz as board chair, Osvaldo Avila as vice chair and Ashley Carson Cottingham as second vice chair at a meeting Tuesday.

Outgoing Chair Carson Cottingham also swore in newly-elected board members Krissy Hudson and Cynthia Richardson, as well as Satya Chandragiri, who was re-elected for a second term. She also swore in student advisers Patrick Hirsig-Gutierrez of South Salem High School and Linda Pappas of North Salem High School.

Board directors unanimously approved or advanced other items, including new middle school language arts and social studies curriculum.

Original story:

Tuesday is a meeting of firsts for the Salem-Keizer School Board as new district Superintendent Andrea Castañeda takes over, and newly elected board Directors Cynthia Richardson and Krissy Hudson are sworn in.

The board will vote on adopting several new curricula for middle and high school students, elect a chair and vice chair for the upcoming school year, hear about Castañeda’s early plans for her superintendency and swear in new student advisors.


To participate

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 11 and takes place at Chemeketa Community College, Building 2, 4000 Lancaster Dr. N.E. The Student Services Support Center, where meetings are usually held, is under construction over the summer.

The board will meet in person, but members of the public may only attend and comment virtually. Sign-ups for public comment closed Monday at 3 p.m.

The meeting will be streamed on CC:Media, channel 21, and on YouTube at the links below.


New leadership

Tuesday’s meeting includes a swearing-in of new board members and student advisers to the school board.

Following that, the board will select its chair, vice chair and second vice chair for the upcoming school year.

Castañeda will present her 100-day plan to the school board, which includes meetings with every school principal in the district, community leaders and other stakeholders, and reviews of current district practices in a number of areas. She will also speak about early literacy plans for the district.

New curricula

Board members will vote on adopting a new language arts and new social studies curriculum for middle school students, and some high school items for advanced courses.

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 will also consider 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.

Mental health treatment center

The board will hold a first reading, but not yet vote, on a memorandum of understanding to establish a day treatment center for children with serious mental health or behavioral problems. The center would serve student ages 6 to 17.

“The region does not have any day treatment/partial hospitalization programs, psychiatric residential
treatment facilities or psychiatric hospitals, despite having higher levels of behavioral health needs than
other urban areas in Oregon. The acute behavioral health concerns in Salem-Keizer Public Schools mirror trends throughout the state and across the nation,” the agenda item reads.

The treatment center would be a public-private partnership, with MWIC-Epping, LLC, purchasing a property and donating it to the district after five years, according to the memorandum.

Trillium Family Services would provide mental health treatment on-site, while the district provides classes.

The center will be located at 10327 River Rd. N.E. in Salem, a former school property within the Gervais School District.

Data and monitoring

The board will hold a first reading for the school district’s performance growth targets for the upcoming school year.

The district is required under state grants to identify metrics to track showing how the district is improving student performance.

District leaders plan to track four-year high school graduation, five-year completion, third grade reading levels, the percentage of ninth graders on track to graduate high school and student attendance as metrics to improve, according to the plan.

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.