Salem’s school system would add 240 full-time employees, lengthen the middle school day and spend more than $3 million to create more after school programs and eliminate fees to improve local education under a plan being advanced by Salem-Keizer School District administrators.
District administrators will present their spending plan at a special meeting of the school board.
The meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the district’s support services center, 2575 Commercial Street SE. Citizens can comment on the plan after the school executives detail what they have in mind.
The money comes from Salem-Keizer’s expected share of new state education funding. Salem-Keizer expects to receive an additional $35 million starting in the fall.
School board members expect to listen to more citizen reaction at another meeting Feb. 25 before ultimately voting on the plan.
Expect the board meetings to be lively.
Salem-Keizer’s unions already have raised concerns about the plan, and thousands of parents, students and community members already have spoken up about how they think the money should be spent.
Last week, administrators outlined in general what they wanted to use the money for but didn’t provide specific dollar amounts.
On Monday, they put dollars to their ambitions.
Here’s a breakdown but note that employee counts may roll part-time positions into the full-time equivalent.
Social-emotional learning: $7.2 million, 56 employees
The district would hire eight full-time social workers, four half-time middle school counselors, four school psychologists and a number of other employees to focus on student behavior.
About $800,000 would pay community mental health and substance abuse providers to serve students in schools.
The plan calls for each middle school to dedicate a room with staff for students to use when they’re upset or having trouble regulating emotions.
Several new employees would provide new staff training for managing student behavior.
High school counseling offices would get an extra secretary to handle student schedule changes, freeing up counselors to spend more time with students.
Elementary school reading: $6.1 million, 36 employees
Eight elementary schools would get extra help to boost their students to reading at grade level. Those schools haven’t yet been selected.
The plan adds 25 teachers focused on kindergarten and first grade reading, when kids are learning the basics.
The plan also calls for more behavior staff in those schools. It would also pay for mentor teachers, coaches and training for the new teachers.
English learning and dual language programs: $4.7 million, 35 employees
Eight elementary schools would get language coaches, behavior specialists and mentor teachers to help students gain in learning English. Those schools haven’t been determined.
The plan also calls for revising the middle school English language program and the high school newcomers program, which serves students new to the U.S. who don’t speak English.
A new coordinator would oversee the district’s dual language programs.
Community engagement & support: $4.3 million, 49 employees
This portion of the plan reflects recommendations from a community task force that spent months gathering feedback about how Salem-Keizer should spend the money.
The district would hire six new community resource specialists, focused on helping students from groups traditionally not well-served by the district. Existing positions focus on black and Pacific Islander students; the new specialists would expand help for those students and also target special education and Latino students.
Every school with a high percentage of impoverished students would receive a full-time community school outreach coordinator, typically a bilingual office employee who reaches out to families with help for everything from attendance to finding health care.
Many elementary schools currently have this position, often funded with federal money earmarked for schools serving impoverished populations. Those schools would expand the role to full time or use their federal money for something else.
The plan also includes two advocates for homeless students and one for students in foster care, expanding the translation services office and another Indian education specialist.
Middle school math: $3.8 million, 23 employees
All middle schools would have a longer school day but lose one period of class, so students would have six longer classes rather than the current seven. The goal is to allow for more math instruction.
The plan includes hiring 16 teachers so class sizes don’t increase.
Salem-Keizer would also spend $1.2 million on a common middle school math curriculum.
Extracurricular programs: $3.4 million
Most of this money is earmarked for after school programs at middle schools and certain elementary schools.
About $750,000 would cover reduced or dropped fees for high school activities like sports, band, choir and arts.
The plan also includes $400,000 for new middle and high school art programs.
Special education and behavior programs,: $2.9 million, 26 employees
The district would hire 10 special education teachers to reduce class sizes and caseloads.
Four new teachers and eight new support staff would work in therapeutic care classrooms, a new =initiative to give kids struggling with behavior in elementary school into a smaller classroom to prepare them for regular classrooms.
The behavior intervention center, a separate school for special education students with high needs, would add two teachers and a social worker.
Equity and inclusion: $1.5 million, 5 employees
Two secretaries would be added in in the district’s human resources office to recruit and retain a more diverse staff.
Special education teachers would get three mentors.
The money also includes training on equity, social justice and teaching in a way that accounts for students’ diverse cultures.
Help for 9th graders: $1 million, 9 employees
Two high schools will get additional math teachers for algebra and a 9th grade coach to keep freshmen on track to graduate.
Professional development: $146,000, 1 employee
A new coordinator will organize staff trainings for the district.
CORRECTION: This article originally misstated middle school schedule changes. The plan adds class time but subtracts one period per day.
Reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.