By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Athletic realignment that puts Salem-Keizer School District high schools and three Bend high schools in the same conference drew a strong negative response from the Salem-Keizer School Board on Tuesday.

The board action follows a district staff recommendation and protests from many district parents who are concerned that travel over the Cascade Mountains could endanger athletes in winter weather, disrupt academic scheduling, and cost the district many thousands of dollars.

The Oregon School Activities Association, concerned that there are only three 6A classification schools in central Oregon, has placed the Bend high schools of Bend, Mountain View, and Summit in the Greater Valley Conference with McNary, McKay, West Salem, South Salem, and Sprague high schools for the next four school years.

Several audience members urged the board to appeal the decision. One, Angie Livengood of Salem, said the altitudes of the Cascades could keep cell phones from carrying messages of accidents in the mountains.

The board voted 6-1 to appeal the OSAA move. Chairperson Paul Kyllo cast the negative vote, saying, “I believe that the district is taking steps to mitigate the cost.” He called the appeal a bad way to spend district money.

Paul Dakopolos, the district legal counsel, said that any appeal would go to the OSAA board of directors and that the OSAA board could take the case to the Marion County District Court.

In other business, the board elected three of nine candidates to the district budget committee. Virginia Stapleton was elected on the first ballot, incumbent Adam Kohler on the second, and Kathleen Harder on the third. The other candidates were Christin Erikson, Virginia Gomez, Anna Kraemer, Adriana Miranda, and Derek Olson.

The board approved 13 grants to the district, the largest being $5,861,423 from the Oregon Department of Education to expand career and technical education programs in high schools. ODE also provided $3,036,394 for the district’s Head Start program, $1,651,200 for continuing the teacher and administrator mentoring program, $1,443,057 for programs for migrant children, $324,929 to reimburse food purchases, $209,835 for secondary career pathway funding, $148,800 for fresh fruits and vegetables outside the meal program, and $5,000 to enroll non-traditional students in Sprague CTE programs.

The other grants are $666,187 from Early Learning Hub for additional pre-kindergarten programs in highly impacted attendance areas, $286,000 from Early Learning Hub for increasing readiness for kindergarten, $81,711 from the Community Resource Trust for startup equipment at the Career and Technical Education Center, $20,084 from the city of Salem for after-school programs at Walker Middle School and Leslie Middle School, and $11,618 from the Oregon Response to Instruction and Interventions.

Personnel actions approved by the board include the following in the McNary attendance area:

• Temporary part-time teaching contract for Marie Curran at Gubser Elementary School.

• Temporary full-time teaching contracts for Leona Hall at McNary and Hailee Young at Keizer Elementary school.

• A first-year full-time probation contract for Veronica Rhodes at Keizer.

• A full-time contract for Elizabeth Armstrong at Cummings and Scott elementary schools.

The board approved first reading of a resolution to organize the Oregon School Boards Association as a nonprofit corporation.