Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem City Council agenda

April 12, 2021 at 5:03pm

Salem-Keizer plans for five days per week of in-person school in fall

A student follows one-way arrows to get to her desk at Richmond Elementary on Tuesday, March 2. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Local schools will be back to a more normal year in the fall, with five full days per week of in-person classes, the Salem-Keizer School District announced Monday.

The district said in doing so they would follow all guidelines in place from state health and education officials.

"We do not know what those guidelines will say, but they may include protocols like wearing a face covering, frequent handwashing and some form of physical distancing," the district said in an announcement.

But students and families who want to remain online come fall will be able to do so. The district will keep its Enhanced Digital Guided Education (EDGE) program, an all-online academy created last summer for families who knew they did not want to return to school in-person this year.

Students in the online program will have two options: EDGE Connected, which will have live classes each day led by teacher, and EDGE Independent, which lets students do work at their own pace under the supervision of a teacher.

Families must register for EDGE by May 14 to be guaranteed a spot. More information is available on the district website.

-Rachel Alexander

April 12, 2021 at 4:25pm

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill would ban hate symbols in schools

Oregon House of Representatives. (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

On Saturday, the Oregon House overwhelmingly passed a bill intended to keep hate symbols out of schools. 

THE ISSUE: Neo-Nazi symbols, nooses and the Confederate battle flag have been used to harass and intimidate people of color. 

THE BILL: House Bill 2697

WHAT IT DOES: Bans these symbols from being displayed in schools, with exceptions for use in academic materials. It also requires schools to adopt policies aimed at bias incidents. 

WHY IT WAS PROPOSED: Proponents say there has been a rise in hate crimes and speech against students.


State Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem: Excused

State Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth: Yes 

State Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem: Yes 

State Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence: Excused

Sate Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer: Yes 

State Rep. Teresa Alonso León, D-Woodburn: Yes

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: The bill moves to the Senate for consideration. 

-Jake Thomas

April 12, 2021 at 11:24am

AGENDA: Salem-Keizer board will consider waiving state standardized tests

The Salem-Keizer School Board on Tuesday will consider a new charter contract for Optimum Learning Environments Charter School and vote on a district plan to skip standardized state tests for students this spring.


District administrators are asking the board to give them a green light to skip state standardized tests this year, a move that would put the district out of compliance with Oregon's standards for public schools. According to a staff report, the district "would prefer to use time with students to focus on teaching and learning instead of implementing summative assessments" during the final quarter of the school year.

If the board approves the plan, students in local schools would still be tested on math and reading proficiency using internal district assessments which are standardized based on national data. The district would have to submit a plan to the state to regain compliance with state standards for public schools, which would consist of administering the state standardized tests next year.

The board is also due to hear reports on an effort to assess the district's school discipline practices, the return to in-person classes, early childhood education programs and next year's budget.

A normally routine part of board meetings spotlighting achievements by students, community groups and district employees has become another source of conflict on the board. Board leadership last week decided to delay recognizing South Salem High School senior and student journalist Eddy Binford-Ross for winning several national awards and scholarships.

The decision came after Binford-Ross published an article detailing how Oregon Right to Life and affiliated political action committees have financed the campaigns of a majority of sitting board members. Board chair Satya Chandragiri said he acted after he became aware the Salem Democratic Socialists of America had shared the article to endorse a slate of board candidates in the upcoming May election, saying he was concerned honoring Binford-Ross could be perceived as taking a side in the upcoming election.

In response, Alec Palm, a West Salem senior also due to be recognized for his work as Oregon Youth Governor, asked that his recognition be withdrawn from the agenda in a show of solidarity with Binford-Ross.

To participate:

The board meets Tuesday, April 13 at 6 p.m. The meeting will stream live on YouTube and be broadcast on CC:Media, channel 21, and on YouTube.

English: https://youtu.be/DworhEHszE8

Spanish: https://youtu.be/-K1eRS8_GPY

Written comments can be submitted until noon Monday, April 12 using this form. The board will not take live calls during the meeting, but will read submitted comments and provide a summary during the meeting.

-Rachel Alexander

April 12, 2021 at 9:26am

AGENDA: Salem City Council to consider speed limit changes

The Salem City Council meets Monday evening to consider changing the speed limits on several streets, accepting a van donation for the senior center and a new project to replace an aging filter at the city's water treatment plant.


Councilors will consider a state Department of Transportation speed study that recommended increasing the speed limit by 5 mph on Southeast 17th Street from Southeast Mission Street to Northeast State Street. ODOT also recommended lowering the speed limit to 30 mph on Northeast 45th Street from Northeast Center Street to Sunnyview Road.

City staff are recommending keeping the speed limit at 25 mph on Southeast 17th Street.

The council will also consider accepting a cargo van donated to nonprofit Friends of Center 50+ to expand outreach to seniors. Friends of Center 50+ wants to transfer the van to the city-run senior center to support programs like Wellness on Wheels.

Councilors will also discuss creating a new project that will construct a filter at the Geren Island Water Treatment Facility after the city received a $20 million grant from the state last month.

The total project cost is $25 million and will rebuild the existing single-cell filter into a two-cell slow sand filter that will expand capacity and provide additional options for removing turbidity and filter-clogging algae. 

To participate: The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Monday and is streamed live on YouTube. Submit comments on agenda items by 5 p.m. the day of the meeting at [email protected]. Public comment and testimony may also be provided during the meeting via Zoom. Please pre-register between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on the day of the meeting at the following link: https://www.cityofsalem.net/Pages/Public-Comment-at-Salem-City-CouncilMeeting.aspx

-Saphara Harrell