Schools unveil plan to reach underserved students

Since September, the 44 educators, parents, students and community members on the Salem-Keizer School District’s Student Investment Account Task Force have been working to develop a strategy targeting traditionally underserved segments of the student body. 

 At the Feb. 11 Board of Directors meeting, the task force presented its recommendation to Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) Superintendent Christy Perry.  

In its presentation to Perry, the Task Force recommended following feedback from the community engagement, specifically:

• Bolstering professional development for staff, particularly trauma-informed and culturally relevant strains

• Increased access and options, while reducing costs for students to participate in extracurricular activities and athletics

• Supporting students’ mental health needs with additional staff and access

• Hiring more diverse staff members

• Improving two-way and multilingual communication between the district, schools and the community

• Offering additional transportation offerings and reducing walk zones

 SKPS is slated to receive more than $35 million from the Student Success Act. Annually, this Student Investment Account can only be used to meet students’ mental or behavioral health needs, and increase academic achievement for students while reducing academic disparities. The task force honed its focus to address the needs of students who are economically disadvantaged, Native American, English learners and Latina/Latino/Latinx, black or African American, experiencing homelessness, native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders, receiving special education services.

The recommendation comes after intensive data review, targeted focus groups with more than 270 attendees, listening sessions with more than 1,000 community members and 5,000 survey responses.

 At its Feb. 18 meeting, the Board of Directors will receive the SKPS plan to invest the Student Investment Account dollars. The Board will also hear public testimony at that meeting as well as at its Feb. 25 meeting prior to voting on its approval. The plan must be submitted to the Oregon Department of Education by March 15.