7:51 p.m. PDT April 28, 2016
Salem-Keizer superintendent Christy Perry wants to hire about 27 new teachers for the upcoming school year, to address enrollment growth and ideally increase staff diversity in the district.
The hiring boost is part of Perry’s proposed 2016-17 budget, which she submitted to the school board Tuesday evening.
The total proposed budget for 2016-17 is $673.4 million, with $462.6 million proposed for the general fund.
More than 80 percent of the funds would go toward salaries and benefits.
The budget proposes a total of 27 licensed, 31 classified, and 5 administrator hires, in full-time equivalent, for the upcoming year.
If the board approves the budget,the district will still have fewer teachers than at its peak of 2,458 in 2009.
Still, the proposed influx could help address major challenges the district is facing.
Perry said some of the challenges have to do with overcrowding, with more than 41,000 students in the district and expected growth of about 600 more students next year.
The district has large and complex schools, she said, with large numbers of students, many living in poverty.
McKay High School, for example, has an average enrollment of 1,920 students; 97 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and 52 percent are English language learners.
Perry said it is important to have diversity in the staff to mirror the diversity of the students. This also aids with retention of staff, she said.
By investing in more teachers and staff — and continuing partnerships with Western Oregon University and Chemeketa Community College to train and educate future district workers — the district is able to increase diversity and support, Perry said.
Mindy Merritt, president of the Salem-Keizer Education Association, said it is important to realize that, while the district has enough money to cover the growth at its current service level, the current service level is not what it needs to be in order to deliver the schools that children deserve.
“The increase of full-time equivalent for educators still does not bring the district back to the previous levels that FTE had been at prior to the budget shortfall,” she said. “The new positions are being put into place to work toward providing for the increase in the number of overall students that are attending our schools, many of which are already overcrowded.”
The association is looking forward to working with the district regarding the budget in its entirety, Merritt said.
The budget committee will review the proposed budget, take testimony from the public, revise as needed and vote in a couple months.
Editor’s note: A version of this story published online earlier contained an error in the proposed number of teachers. This has been corrected.
- May 10 at 7 p.m. — Budget Committee Meeting: The budget committee will have a question/answer session regarding the superintendent’s proposed 2016-17 budget and staff will present an infrastructure report.
- May 16-19 at 6 p.m. — Budget Hearings: The budget committee will receive public testimony, deliberate, and approve the 2016-17 budget to forward to the school board for action. Note: The hearings will conclude when the committee takes action to approve a budget for adoption to the school board. If deliberation meetings are held May 18 or 19 public testimony will not be received.
- June 7 at 6 p.m. — School Board Regular Business Meeting: The school board will take public testimony during a public hearing and take action on Adoption and Appropriation of the 2016-17 Budget and Resolution.
Budget committee meetings are held at the district’s Support Services Center, Room 2, 2575 Commercial Street SE in Salem.