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Salem-Keizer Schools Support 21st Century Learning with Fiber Optic Cable Installation - 09/20/17

District's Fiber Optic Network Expands Access, Saves Millions in Costs

Media Contact: Karma Krause,
For immediate release
September 20, 2017

Salem, OR -- The days of backpacks spilling over with heavy textbooks and endless pieces of paper are disappearing, and the modern classrooms look more and more like Silicon Valley. The need for high-speed network connectivity and bandwidth have increased dramatically as teachers harness technology to deliver curriculums. Look around, and you'll see Chromebooks, expanded digital curriculum resources, opportunities for students to take virtual tours of college campuses and science students to collaborating with industry partners on projects online.

Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) is installing a fiber optic cable network that will serve all schools in the district. This infrastructure improvement project will bring significant educational benefits to students while saving the district millions in future expenses. Residents who live near one of the 65 SKPS schools may notice utility work taking place along neighborhood streets over the next several months, which could be related to the project.

As demands for bandwidth grows, so do the costs of purchasing the service. With limited options for high-speed connectivity in the area, SKPS pays nearly four times as much as other similar-size districts. By installing its own fiber optic network, the district expects to have enough bandwidth to meet its needs for the next 20 years and may save as much as $80 million over the same time period.

SKPS was awarded a Federal E-Rate grant for the project in 2016. Eighty percent of the project is subsidized through the grant. The district's obligation is around $3.2 million. Most of the district's cost will be recouped in savings in the first year of using the network.

In partnership with the cities of Salem and Keizer, the fiber project will be installed in eight phases and involves installation of overhead and underground fiber optic cables. Work is underway to install the first loop in Southeast Salem. It will connect Swegle, Auburn, Eyre, Miller, Four Corners and Hoover Elementary Schools, Houck Middle, and Roberts High to McKay High, which will connect to the district's Technology and Information Services Department. The entire project is expected to be complete by June 2018.

Between now and the end of the project, residents who live near a school might notice utility marking paint, drilling equipment and trucks, traffic cones, rolls of cable and other types of equipment on streets and at the schools. The project could at times be noisy or dusty, however construction crews intend to work quickly to minimize any disruption to neighborhoods.

"We're excited about the benefits the fiber project brings to our educational programs and the long-term cost-savings it will provide," said Robert Silva, SKPS Director of Technology and Information Services. "We really appreciate the community's support and understanding while we make these major technology infrastructure upgrades."

Led by Superintendent Christy Perry, Salem-Keizer School District 24J is the second-largest school district in the state of Oregon, with nearly 5,000 employees serving more than 42,000 students in 65 schools in the cities of Salem and Keizer.


Salem-Keizer School Board Unanimously Adopts Safe and Welcoming Schools Resolution - 09/18/17

The Policy Conveys to Students, Staff and the Community the Salem-Keizer School Board's Ongoing Commitment to Provide a Safe and Welcoming Environment for Students

SALEM, Oregon, September 18, 2017--The Salem-Keizer School Board unanimously reapproved its Safe and Welcoming Schools resolution last Tuesday. The intent of the policy is to convey to students, staff and the community the board's ongoing commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment for our students.

"By readopting our Safe and Welcoming Schools resolution, the school board wants to send a clear message to those in our community who feel under stress and are worried," said Superintendent Christy Perry. "We will not accept any kind of discrimination, harassment or bullying in our schools. We are working hard to foster a culture that is safe and welcoming, and that understands and celebrates the unique assets of every student."

The school board originally adopted the Safe and Welcoming Schools resolution in January. The resolution will be reapproved annually.

Along with the Safe and Welcoming Schools resolution, the district also recently opened the Office of Student Equity, Access and Advancement. It was created to support underrepresented students who are currently not successful in school.

You can read the district's Safe and Welcoming Schools initiatives here:

Salem-Keizer School District 24J is the second-largest school district in the state of Oregon, with nearly 5,000 employees serving more than 42,000 students in 65 schools in the cities of Salem and Keizer.


SKPS School Board Unanimously Adopts 2017-18 Supplemental Budget - 09/15/17

School Board Unanimously Adopts 2017-18 Supplemental Budget
Nearly 25 Staff to be Hired, Including Counselors, English Language Development Teachers and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Specialist

SALEM, Oregon, September 15, 2017--The Salem-Keizer School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a $10.5 million supplemental budget. It will be used to hire more teachers and to help defray the cost of architectural and design work for construction projects.

"While we're grateful that the legislature was able to provide us with more funding, we are still in a deficit biennium," said Chief Operations Officer Mike Wolfe with the district's Business and Support Services department. "We will be looking for ways to continue to cut costs."

The district's 2017-18 budget of about $468 million dollars was previously based on an anticipated $8.1 billion in state school funding. It was approved by the school board in June. The legislature later approved $8.2 billion in school funding, accounting for the $10.5 million voted on by the school board this week.

The district plans to hire three full-time drug and alcohol counselors, five full-time English Language Development teachers, and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math teacher with the funding. To view the full supplemental budget, click here:

In addition, the district plans to use a portion of the money to begin planning for a 2018 bond referendum. Costs include architectural and engineering design work for proposed additions to address overcrowding at McNary High School and North Salem High School, as well as planning for a new elementary school to replace Auburn Elementary. The last bond was passed in 2008. Since then, the district has grown by nearly 2,000 students.

Salem-Keizer School District 24J is the second-largest school district in the state of Oregon, with nearly 5,000 employees serving more than 42,000 students in 65 schools in the cities of Salem and Keizer.

State Results Demonstrate Growth, Particularly in Middle Schools - 09/14/17

The Oregon Department of Education today released the 2016-17 state assessment results. For the first time in more than a decade, Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) eighth-graders tested above the state average in both language arts and math. That growth translated into high school performance, where SKPS students achieved three percentage points higher than the state average in both English Language Arts and Math.

"We're making a shift in how we approach our curriculum in elementary years, and as a result, we're seeing great improvements in learning and understanding for our students in the middle years and beyond," said Superintendent Christy Perry. "Many of our students don't speak English as a first language, so that first major test in English can be intimidating and difficult."

As part of the district's strategic plan, SKPS has committed to improving and supporting student performance. Elementary schools have aligned curriculum and systems in addition to the implementation of ReadyGEN, an integrated and balanced approach to reading and writing instruction. To help facilitate English language proficiency, SKPS has begun utilizing bilingual units aligned with English literacy. In middle schools, school staff and leaders are focusing intently on student learning needs. Much of this work is done in collaborative teams using student work and data to drive instruction in addition to timely interventions and extensions for students.

The 2016-17 school year is the third year the test has been administered aligned to the Smarter Balanced standards. By looking at how cohorts perform on the test, parents and educators can measure the growth of the same groups of students from year to year. For instance:
* Fourth-graders realized a growth of one percentage point in achievement from the previous year in English Language Arts
* Fifth-graders achieved a growth of five percentage points in achievement from the 2014-15 school year in English Language Arts
* Both seventh- and eighth-graders achieved a growth of three percentage points in English Language Arts

Most notably, seventh-graders' achievement in math grew by eight percentage points from the previous year. This growth may be attributed to a 60 percent increase in students taking seventh-grade accelerated math across the district.

"We are committed to seeing our students grow," said Assistant Superintendent Kelly Carlisle. "A key to that growth is offering access to rigor. We're seeing that now as a result of our accelerated math classes. While we know these tests aren't the total assessment of a child's abilities, it helps us as educators to be more effective."

While tests were also administered in science, those tests don't count toward students' ability to graduate. Currently, sixth- and seventh-grade students only receive a half-year of science due to limited facilities. The 2018 proposed bond referendum includes upgrades to middle school facilities in order to offer full-year courses.

Across the state, test results showed drops in almost every tested grade with the exception of high school.

Notable points
* Early College High -- 29 percentage point growth in math and 28 percentage point grown in English Language Arts from previous year
* McKay High -- eight percentage point growth in English Language Arts/Reading from previous year
* West Salem High -- 19 percentage point growth in math from previous year
* Walker Middle -- eight percentage point growth in eighth-grade math cohort
* Whiteaker Middle -- eighth-graders performed 10 percentage points better than the state average in English Language Arts
* Waldo Middle -- 11 percentage point growth in eighth-grade English Language Arts cohort
* Swegle Elementary -- fifth-graders had a 15 percentage point gain in English Language Arts cohort
* Schirle Elementary -- fifth-graders performed 18 percentage points higher than the state average in math
* Kennedy Elementary -- fifth-graders had a 19 percentage point gain in English Language Arts

For complete results to go:

SKPS is the second-largest school district in the state of Oregon, with more than 5,000 employees serving 42,000 students in 65 schools in the cities of Salem and Keizer. SKPS also serves the most impoverished population in the state, with 61% of students considered living in poverty. Eighteen percent of SKPS students speak a language other than English as a first language.

McKay High School's new turf athletic field ribbon cutting - 09/01/17

The McKay High School Athletic Booster Club, McKay students and staff, and Salem-Keizer Public Schools invite the community to join them in celebrating the opening of McKay High School's new turf athletic field at a special event on Friday, September 1, 2017.

The event opens with a BBQ at 5:30 p.m. and will be followed by a special ribbon cutting ceremony on the 50 yardline at 6:45 p.m. The McKay community and the booster club will recognize the major donors who made the installation of the turf field a reality. Nearly $1 million in cash and in-kind contributions were needed to fund the installation of the field.

Following the ribbon cutting, the McKay Varsity Football team will host West Salem High in the first game on the new field. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. There will be a youth football team scrimmage at half-time of the varsity game.

McKay High School is Salem-Keizer's largest high school and serves more than 2,400 students. McKay is the final high school in the district to transition from natural to artificial turf. Upgrading the field from grass to turf will allow more opportunities for use by athletic teams, especially during the wet season. Other programs, such as marching band, also will benefit from the new field.

The new turf field is a point of pride for the McKay community. When asked about what the field means to them, students commented:
"I feel like this field will motivate us more. Not for just the people here (at McKay) but for the upcoming kids from middle schools."
"It makes me really happy that the community is supporting our athletics as well as our academics."
"To have this turf field, I feel like it's giving us hope."

McKay High School was recently ranked #27 within Oregon by U.S. News & World Report in its 2017 Best High Schools rankings.

For more information about the McKay Turf Field Ribbon Cutting event, please contact Danielle Bethell, turf project manager, at (503) 851-8617. For more information about McKay High School, please contact Rob Schoepper, principal at (503) 399-3080.