For the Keizertimes

A 2018-19 budget proposal of $1,147,797,142 for Salem-Keizer Public Schools received a favorable vote from the budget committee Tuesday.

A favorable vote on the bond measure and new revenue estimates from the Oregon Department of Education increased the amount from the original $691,458,464. The revision includes two full-time nurses, four full-time counselors, a full-time equivalent of 3-3/4 behavior specialists, an additional $1 million for elementary mathematics, and $424 million more for the 2018 bond capital fund.

Final approval of the budget is expected at the June 12 meeting of the school board. The board makes up half of the budget committee and appoints the other members from the district.

The vote was 12-2, with negative votes coming from board members Jesse Lippold and Paul Kyllo. Both of them also were the only committee members in favor of a motion by Lippold to terminate the district’s employment of Educational Excellence and transfer the $350,000 budget for it to increase the mentorship program and pay AVID teachers.

Lippold’s position was that because Educational Excellence is a for-profit company, the $350,000 would be better spent for programs under district control.

Asked after the committee meeting why he voted against adoption of the budget, Lippold said the composition of the budget that convinced him that the district did not do everything it could for the students and teachers. Kyllo left the building immediately and was not available for comment.

One proposed change to the original budget was unanimously approved. Kathy Goss, a board member, had moved that $150,000 be transferred from the contingency fund to have health services fully funded.

The meeting started with comments from the audience. A long succession of teachers, including Keizer residents Nubia Green and Lindsay White, credited Educational Excellence for the strong academic improvements in the schools targeted for its help.

Although district employees normally are not allowed to comment publicly on district political issues, the committee asked Superintendent Christy Perry, who supervised preparation of the budget, why staff had recommended that Educational Excellence remain in the budget. She replied that it had achieved the expected results of improving the underachieving schools.

Perry added that the employment of Educational Excellence involved both Title I and Title II federal funding. She said that terminating the program was doable under Title II but that she had doubts whether abandoning the program would keep the district qualified to receive Title I funds.

Several speakers from the floor also commented that transferring money to provide more health services was necessary for students.