Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

S-K Budget committee tries to balance waning resources, student progress

For the Keizertimes

Struggles with scarce resources and student performance in the face of those problems were discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Salem-Keizer School District budget committee.

The question of double counting came up early in the meeting. Mike Wolfe, assistant superintendent, said the administration was avoiding it.

Noting that dollars move from the general fund to the general services fund and the debt services fund, he said, “We’re tracking the movement of that dollar.”

Directors of the elementary, middle and high schools pointed out progress in their students’ performance but noted that improvements were still needed in some areas.

Ron Speck, one of the elementary directors, said that reading and mathematics scores in his schools have been rising in the last five years but that there have been “flat lines” in writing and science. Meera Kreitzer, the other elementary director, noted that the district’s strategic plan has provided a data warehouse that principals and teachers have been using effectively.

Melissa Cole, middle school director, reported consistent progress in the schools, with the priority of making sure students graduate.

“They’re full of hope, confidence and dreams,” she said of her students, noting that on average they were outperforming students in Oregon as a whole.

Kelly Carlisle, high school director, began by stating his vision: “All students graduate and are prepared for a successful life.”

He described reading performance in the high schools as “closing the gap with the rest of the state.” He mentioned frustration but some progress in other areas.

From the audience, Jon Chinburg of Keizer, who teaches at Stephens Middle School, raised a question about instructional coaches, who are certified as teachers but, rather than teach students directly, are consultants for teachers.

“How do we leverage our dollars,” he asked, “to bring the greatest instructional practices to the students?”

The committee will not meet in December. Its next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Support Services Center in Salem. Presentations will cover the curriculum, instructional services and student services.