Salem-Keizer schools get 20 different principals in 2017-2018


Salem-Keizer schools get 20 different principals in 2017-2018

Published 12:43 a.m. PT Aug. 6, 2017 | Updated 3:18 p.m. PT Aug. 7, 2017

Come September, 20 Salem-Keizer schools will have different principals at the helm.

Twelve are transferring from former principal jobs within the district, while eight are being promoted to the administrative role or are new to the district.

Katie Shumway is one of the in-district transfers, taking over at Auburn Elementary School.

“I was torn because leaving McKinley (Elementary) meant leaving the students, families and staff with whom I had built relationships,” she said. “But when I learned about the complexities of Auburn, I was intrigued.”

With 653 students, Auburn’s population is nearly twice McKinley’s.

But Auburn, opened in 1955, was built with capacity for only half as many kids as are enrolled there today, Shumway said. If the district’s latest bond proposal passes in 2018, Auburn is the one school scheduled to be completely rebuilt.

Auburn also has significantly more students of color and students considered to be economically disadvantaged than McKinley. Shumway said the school’s bilingual programs require additional considerations when making decisions on staff development and recruitment, as well as curriculum.

Administrative changes are happening across the district, but they affect schools that feed into McKay, South and West high schools the most and overwhelmingly affect elementary schools.

New principals and assistant principal hires are placed throughout the district roughly parallel to the size of each high school feeder system and the corresponding number of administrator positions within those systems, said Brett Cheever, director of staffing and human resources initiatives for Salem-Keizer.

In other words, more hires are made in the schools that feed into North Salem High School, for example, as a reflection of the larger population and need for staffing.

The West Salem feeder system has historically experienced a slightly lower annual turnover rate than other systems, Cheever said, which “may result from a variety of factors, including geographical preferences and mobility due to career advancement.”

Community members have expressed frustrations with high principal turnover rates in North-area schools, including McKay High School. When the last principal of the school, Sara LeRoy, announced she was leaving McKay to go to North, students took to social media to protest her leaving.

McKay system schools have seen the most new hires for principals or assistant principals in the past four years, accounting for 13 of 51 across the district.

Cheever said Salem-Keizer’s annual turnover rate for administrators is approximately 10 percent. The number of principal and assistant principal new hires for 2017-18 are consistent with year-over-year hiring patterns, he said.

Rob Schoepper will fill LeRoy’s position as McKay principal, having served as principal of Claggett Creek Middle School in Keizer for the past four years.

He was the principal at Parrish Middle School for four years before moving to Claggett Creek and has worked as a teacher, behavior specialist and coach throughout his Salem-Keizer career.

“There is a real opportunity as principal to put systems in place that impact teaching and learning,” he said.

Salem-Keizer principals earn from $88,858 to $125,808, depending on grade level. This salary does not include additional elements of a principal’s compensation package, such as the district-covered 6 percent contribution to the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System or health insurance.

This compares to state-wide averages of $102,467 to $114,812, according to a 2016-2017 survey by the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators.

New and transferred principals like Schoepper have already begun their work for the new school year.

Since April, Schoepper has started meeting with teachers, students and booster club leaders, as well as attending training and going into the classrooms to get a feel for the school.

Schoepper said McKay, with 2,500 students and more than 200 staff, has a lot of exciting things happening and an “incredible system” already in place for college and career readiness that he hopes to expand.

“I believe our responsibility (as educators) is to provide access and opportunity,” he said. Schoepper wants to implement that core value to help students access more advanced placement courses and Advancement Via Individual Determination program materials and skills throughout the school.

Attendance is a challenge Schoepper plans to work on at McKay. McKay’s rate of regular attenders in 2015-2016 was 52.6 percent, compared to the district’s rate of 58.7 percent for students grades 9-12.

Schoepper said students need to attend 80 percent or more of the time, which equates to missing one day or less each week. These time gaps often hinder the student’s ability to learn and leave holes in their education.

Schoepper’s also got his eyes on expanding opportunities in McKay’s athletic department, career technical education partnerships and other programs that will help students with skills like time management and goal setting.

Here are the Salem-Keizer principal changes for the 2017-2018 school year:

Elementary schools:

  • Auburn, Katie Shumway, transfer
  • Candalaria, Wendy Roberts, transfer
  • Harritt, Melinda Wilson, first-time principal
  • Keizer, Christine Bowlby, transfer
  • Lamb, Cherice Cochrane, first-time principal
  • McKinley, Michelle Nelson, new district hire and first-time principal
  • Morningside, Sarah Grimmer, first-time principal
  • Myers, Stephanie Makjavich, first-time principal
  • Pringle, Karl Paulson, transfer
  • Scott, Tracy Moisan, transfer
  • Washington, Scott Stenlund, transfer
  • Weddle, Stacey Lund, transfer
  • Wright, Sara Casebeer, transfer

Middle schools:

  • Claggett Creek, Aaron Persons, transfer
  • Walker, Paul Myers, transfer

High schools:

  • McKay, Rob Schoepper, transfer
  • North, Sara LeRoy, transfer
  • West, Jim Miller, first-time principal


  • Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School charter, Lorelei Gilmore, transfer
  • Career Technical Education Center, Rhonda Rhodes, first-time principal

Read last year’s coverage on administration changes in Salem-Keizer here.

More on education: Universities rent dorms for eclipse, some openings left | Migrant students in Salem-Keizer explore career options through summer program  | Whiteaker bullying just tip of iceberg in Salem-Keizer schools

Contact Natalie Pate at, 503-399-6745 or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate or on Facebook at

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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