Oregon may require students undergo annual mental health exams

blue and silver stetoscope

The pervasiveness of mental health issues and child suicide rates leads Oregon to rank as the worst state in the country for the prevalence of mental illness.

And the state’s lack of child psychiatrists and school counselors leaves families waiting for months to get help.

Locally, multiple teen suicides have affected both Salem-Keizer Public Schools and the Jefferson School District this year.

Oregon lawmakers want to help with a proposed bill requiring every student in grades 6 through 12 to undergo a mental health wellness check once every school year.

Read the full story here.




Knife threat at elementary school raises discipline questions

internet screen security protection

A third-grade girl at Cummings Elementary School in Keizer, Oregon, recently pulled a pocket knife on another third grader, threatening to kill her.

After the weapon was confiscated by staff, a boy reportedly choked the girl for “snitching.”

Word of the incidents quickly raised concerns across the school’s community and left some parents questioning administrators’ choices on how the victim is being protected and how the others are being disciplined.

Read the full story and the district’s policies here.

Gov. Brown says Oregon has unique chance to add nearly $2 billion for schools

abc books chalk chalkboard

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown wants to tap nearly $2 billion more for schools while the state’s economy is strong and a legislative committee prepares a multi-billion dollar package and education policy road map.

Over the last two decades, the Oregon State Legislature has consistently financed schools at about 21 to 38 percent below what its own research suggested districts needed to be successful.

Brown says this has left districts with large classes, small staffs and outdated buildings and materials, some of the factors contributing to Oregon’s low graduation rate.

She wants to change that for 2019-21, calling on lawmakers to fill the gap.

Read the full story here.

Sparrow Furniture in Oregon gives refugees jobs, help adjusting to American life

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In the last two and a half years, about 230 refugees have resettled in Salem, fleeing violence and persecution around the world.

Five refugees make up the current workforce of Sparrow Furniture, a new socially conscious business in Salem.

Sparrow employees work about 30 hours a week, with an hour of English classes four days a week. They receive mentorship on resume writing, interview skills and financial literacy, as well as soft skills like understanding American work culture.

The goal is to help refugees in Oregon’s capital be successful sooner.

The Statesman Journal explored how the business came to be and the stories behind the refugees who make it.

Read and watch here.

School board approves use of eminent domain to acquire land from Catholic church

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Salem-Keizer Public Schools is poised to gain about six acres of land owned by St. Edward Catholic Church in Keizer, either by having an offer accepted or by exercising eminent domain.

At its meeting Nov. 13, the Salem-Keizer School Board unanimously approved a “resolution of necessity,” allowing the district to use eminent domain to condemn the land, thereby forcing the sale if church leaders do not accept the district’s offer or reach an agreement in negotiation.

District officials argue the land is needed to address traffic and safety concerns at McNary High School, but church leaders disagree and plan to fight the use of eminent domain.

Read the full story here.

Election results: Oregon races, measures

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Natalie Pate and the rest of the Statesman Journal staff covered various Oregon races and ballot measures before and after election day, Nov. 6, 2018.

Here are the result stories Natalie wrote:

For additional election results coverage by Statesman Journal staff, go to www.statesmanjournal.com/politics/.

Meet the 2018 Crystal Apple Award winners from Salem and Keizer schools

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Every year, a select group from Salem-Keizer Public School’s 5,000 educators are honored with a Crystal Apple Award — a special recognition for exceeding their regular duties to demonstrate best practices and improve the lives of students.

Thursday, Nov. 1, 12 recipients — including teachers, administrators and support staff — were chosen from 61 nominees and celebrated before a full house at Salem’s historic Elsinore Theatre.

Meet this year’s honorees here.

Salem-Keizer school report cards show mix of progress, declines in midst of state-level controversy

person writing on notebook

Controversy struck this week when Oregon Department of Education officials proposed the 2017-18 At-A-Glance profiles not be released until after the Nov. 6 election.

The reports were released a day ahead of the original schedule due to the ensuing backlash.

The Statesman Journal took a look at how Salem-Keizer is doing. Read the story here.

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