Salvador Luna, 13, scrapes batter off of a mixer as Stella Pedersen, 12, washes her hands while the two work on a cast-iron dessert during the Farm to Fork enrichment camp at McNary High School in July 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
Salem students will once again see beefed-up summer programs at local schools thanks to a second year of significant state money.
State legislators appropriated $150 million toward summer programs earlier this year following a large expansion in funding in 2021 thanks to Covid relief payments.
That’s allowed the Salem-Keizer School District to offer over a dozen two-week summer camps for students in kindergarten through eighth grade focused on topics including stop-motion animation, gardening and soil science, Lego robotics and printmaking.
This year, the district received about $5 million for K-8 programs, and $2.4 million to serve high school students over the summer, said Nichole Spearman-Eskelsen, summer programs coordinator.
With matching district funds, they’re spending about $9.3 million on camps, summer school and other summer programs for students in all grades. About 16,000 of the district’s roughly 40,000 students are enrolled.
“Since Covid, we’ve not been able to fully get back to where we were pre-Covid in our offerings,” Spearman-Eskelson said of summer school. That’s changing this year, with every elementary school in the district hosting “Jump Start Kindergarten,” a program at the end of summer for incoming kindergarten students to visit their neighborhood school, make friends, see their classroom and get familiar with the school environment before classes start.
Programs are also offered for incoming sixth and ninth graders to get familiar with new schools.
“We’re really trying to ensure students have a successful beginning at each of those transfers or changes in their academic career,” Spearman-Eskelsen said.
High schools will have credit recovery programs available. Elementary schools are also offering programs focused on reading and math skills targeted for third and fourth graders, who were the most behind grade level following online school according to district data, Speakman-Eskelsen said.
The school year ends June 16. Credit recovery programs begin soon after, while most other camps and activities start in July.