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Community Shares Input on District Priorities

Community members and staff discuss budget priorities at West Salem High School

In the fall of 2023, we held a series of community conversation events to have important discussions with the community about the priorities our district has identified to improve student outcomes.

Families, students, staff and members of the community had the opportunity to join six different event sessions, one at each of the district’s comprehensive high schools, or provide their feedback online. These events provided an opportunity for the public to learn about the upcoming budget deficit that our district is facing and provide their input to inform budget planning decisions for the 2024-25 school year, focused on district priorities.

Who We Heard From

During the district’s in-person events and the option for online feedback, we heard from 1,316 participants in total. Participants included individuals who identified with any of the following groups:

  • Family members connected to the district
  • SKPS staff
  • SKPS student
  • Community member

In addition, the district provided participants with the opportunity to hold discussions in focused groups to help ensure that the feedback we received broadly represented the Salem-Keizer Public Schools community. These groups included:

  • Spanish-speaking
  • Arabic-speaking
  • Chuukese
  • Marshallese
  • Russian-speaking
  • American Sign Language
  • Receiving Special Education Services
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Native Education
  • LGBTQ+

We partnered with the Willamette Education Service District for their support in analyzing and making sense of all the input we received from the community.

What We Learned

The community’s input highlighted the importance and value of five key areas:

  1. School culture and community: the importance of students feeling that they belong and are welcome in school.
  2. Emphasis on teachers and staff: the importance of providing teachers and staff members with the necessary resources to support student needs, including an improved student-teacher ratio.
  3. Importance of extracurricular activities: the value of activities beyond academic curriculum in the comprehensive development of students, favoring music, sports, arts and clubs.
  4. Academic focus: an emphasis on courses that challenge students academically and provide skills training to prepare them for the workforce, such as honors classes and career and technical education.
  5. Diversity and inclusion: the importance of Salem-Keizer Public Schools’ commitment to fostering an inclusive environment that embraces diversity and access to language support.

Sense of belonging, extracurricular activities and teacher and staffing support were all priorities that came up the most in discussions when participants were asked about the most important contributor to student success.

Next Engagement Opportunity

The next opportunity for community engagement to discuss priorities will be in late February or early March. We will continue to engage with all members of our community to achieve a balanced budget for the 2024-25 school year and support positive outcomes for students.

Latest Budget Updates and More

For more information about the budget, see the latest updates from Superintendent Castañeda.

You can also view the report given by WESD during the January school board meeting on YouTube.