Skip To Main Content

SKPS leaders share opportunities and challenges with local and state officials

Group of leaders from the state gather at CTEC for a group photo.

More than a dozen state representatives, leaders and education professionals gathered to discuss the future of public education and the opportunities and challenges facing the second-largest school district in Oregon.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, many state representatives, leaders and education professionals held a legislative roundtable discussion at Salem-Keizer Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education Center. The event focused on bringing together local leaders to learn about students and families in Salem-Keizer schools and the challenges and opportunities they have within public education. 

Who we are

In Salem-Keizer Public Schools, more than 40,000 students attend local schools. Salem-Keizer Public Schools is a minority-majority district serving a diverse, complex and gifted student population. Salem-Keizer students speak more than 100 different languages, with 18 percent of students considered to be English Language Learners and 29 percent of students speak a language other than English at home. 

Salem-Keizer schools also serve a student population where more than 17 percent of students access special education services and nearly 1,000 students experienced homelessness during the 2021-22 school year. 

Roundtable discussions

During the gathering, the district hosted a series of roundtable discussions and shared information related to five key areas that need ongoing and increased state-level and community support. 

Safe & Welcoming Schools

SKPS is committed to actively nurturing safe and welcoming environments where all students, families and employees experience physical and psychological safety, and a strong sense of belonging. 

  • Students are better able to engage with learning opportunities when they are in a physically safe environment.
  • Relationships and communication are key to keeping schools safe.
  • Children who are collectively nurtured and supported by systems, communities, and families are better able to realize their highest social-emotional and academic potential as they grow into adulthood.


Holistic. Equity. Access. Right Support at the Right Time. Transformative.

SKPS Fast Facts

  • On-site mental health services are offered in all 65 schools
  • Ongoing training of staff in implicit bias and restorative practices
  • ASIST suicide prevention training program for counselors, school psychologists and social workers
  • Board-certified behavior analysts on staff
  • Member of Connect Oregon
  • Pilot implantation of The Family Check-up, which is an evidence-based parenting support

Recruitment & Hiring 

Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) is the second-largest school district in Oregon,

serving 40,000 students. The district employs more than 7,000 employees at an approximate cost of $2 million per day. To meet student needs, SKPS is always seeking passionate, diverse and highly qualified staff. Each year the district hires more than 600 teachers and 1,000 classified employees.

Special Education Services

All students, from birth to 21 years old, may be eligible for special education services. Special education means specially designed instruction that is provided at no cost to parents to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Specially designed instruction means adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to meet the unique needs of the child and to ensure access to the general curriculum.

SKPS Special Education By the Numbers

  • 17% of students receive services
  • 6,666 eligible students K-21
    • Specific Learning Disability: 26.7%
    • Other Health Impairment: 18.18%
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder: 15.6%
    • Speech/Language: 15.45%
    • Emotional Behavior: 9.15%
    • Intellectual Disability: 6.60%
    • Developmental Delay: 4.86%
    • Deaf/Hard of Hearing: 1.76%
    • All others: <1.00%

Literacy Development

The goal of reading is to be able to comprehend text. To do this, children must be fluent readers who can effortlessly recognize printed words and understand the meaning of the words they are decoding.

English Language Learners and Emergent Bilingual Students

When it comes to the process of word recognition and English Language Learners, context matters as meaning is what aids in anchoring new concepts and language.

Multilingual learners benefit from many of the components of literacy instruction for monolingual learners–like the Science of Reading and rigorous grade-level content, and that is not enough. It is imperative that multilingual learners learn to read and write through an integrated approach of language, literacy, and content.

Critical Considerations

  • 25% of the Salem-Keizer Public School elementary student population are current English learners.
  • Students need, on average, four to seven years to acquire academic English proficiency.
  • The grade 3 reading OSAS assesses students only in English.
    • Many SKPS English learners are proficient readers in their heritage or other languages.
    • Most grade 3 students in SKPS dual language programs are proficient readers of Spanish.

State School Fund (SSF) and Sunsetting of Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER)

SKPS applauds Governor Kotek for releasing a proposed budget of $9.9 billion for K-12, which is a significant improvement over the state budget office calculation of $9.52 billion that would have been devastating to students. However, $9.9 billion will still result in significant reductions of staff and programs that directly serve and support students.

The underfunding of K-12 at $9.9 billion is compounded with the sunsetting of ESSER

in September 2024 where significant ongoing pandemic-related obligations are currently funded to address unfinished learning, healthy learning environments, and the social, emotional, and mental health supports students need now more than ever.

Thank you, elected and appointed local leaders – we need your support

SKPS leadership wants to thank the many local leaders who gathered for this important round table discussion to understand the complex needs of Oregon students, and supports they need to achieve success, and how we can come together to strengthen our communities. 

  • Rep Zach Hudson, Representative, District 49
  • Deb Patterson, Senator, District 10 and staff
  • Senator Lew Frederick, District 22 and staff
  • Kevin Mannix, Representative, District 21 and staff
  • Tom Anderson, Representative, District 19 and staff
  • Tracy Cramer, Representative, District 476 and staff
  • Melissa Goff, Education Policy Advisor, Governor’s Office
  • Ashley Caron Cottingham, Chair, SKPS School Board
  • Maria Hinojos Pressey, 1st Vice Chair, SKPS School Board
  • Osvaldo Avila, Director Zone 1, SKPS School Board
  • Raylin Brennan, Student Advisor to SKPS School Board