At its meeting Tuesday night, the Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) Board of Directors voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Salem-Keizer Education Association. With that approval, many SKPS employees will begin furloughing on Friday, May 22.

Originally, a memorandum of understanding with the Association of Salem-Keizer Education Support Professionals (ASKESP) also was on the agenda, but due to a technical issue, association members were unable to take action ahead of the Board of Directors meeting. ASKESP members will have the opportunity to take action through Wednesday, May 20, and the Board of Directors will reconvene at 6:30 p.m. on May 20 for that action item.

The furlough days are one cost-saving measure the district is taking to address significant projected revenue shortfalls in the 2020-21 school year and possibly the next biennium as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and reduced tax collections at the state level. SKPS anticipates saving up to $8 million by July 31, 2020.

To help mitigate the impacts of reductions next school year and to hold SKPS employees harmless, the district is accessing a state program called Work Share as well as funds available through the federal CARES Act. This will protect as many instructional days and staff positions as possible in the 2020-21 school year, while providing a benefit to employees now. If approved at the May 20 Board of Directors meeting, the 20 percent work reduction for all eligible employees would apply across the district, including to Superintendent Perry. Any employee who does not qualify for those programs will continue to work their regular schedule and will not move to a furlough schedule.

At this time, the reduction in work will occur primarily on Fridays; however, there will be no interruption to meal services and emergency childcare. There will be no synchronous learning or scheduled meetings on Fridays.

Under an executive order from Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon schools have been closed for in-person classes since March 16. On April 8, the governor ordered the end of in-person classes for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.