School board adds student advisor, reviews improved graduation rates

Salem-Keizer Public Schools

Before going over 2020 district graduation rates, which were released last week, the Salem-Keizer school board voted to appoint McKay High School senior Leanette Mabinton as the first ever student advisor to the school board at the meeting of directors on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

“The caliber of Salem-Keizer students who applied for the student advisor position to the board made our decision very hard,” said school board chair Satya Chandragiri. “Leanette will be an excellent representative for all students and her election was a historic moment for our board, adding the important addition of student voice. Student input is invaluable and Leanette will help our board to advance the important equity work we do for the district.”

A Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) student advisor will be appointed to the board on an annual basis each year — although they will serve as a non-voting member of the board. A student must have one year of experience on the district-led student equity committee/student advisory committee in order to be considered for the role.

“I’ve been in SKPS since third grade, so I feel like my own personal experiences and the clubs that I involve myself with will help me to reach out to all students and bring the knowledge I can gain from them and bring it to the school board,” Mabinton said. “I am so humbled and so honored to serve.”

Mabinton will serve as a student advisor for the next six months, before graduating in June. 

“Leanette has been a longtime advocate for students in Salem-Keizer,” said Superintendent Christy Perry. “She actively participates in numerous advisory committees for our district and I am confident she will bring a well-rounded and critical perspective into the board room.”

Later in the meeting, assistant superintendent Iton Udosenata provided the board with graduation data from the 2019-20 school year. 

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, the district increased their four-year graduation rate to 81%, a 2% raise from the previous year. Graduation rates for Black and African-American students in the district increased over three percentage points from the previous year, while rates from Hispanic or Latinx students increased by nearly 2%. 

Students with disabilities graduated at a 67.26% rate, which is an increase of nearly 5% from the previous year.

Each high school in the district, with the exception of Roberts High, achieved a graduate rate of over 80% — McNary, South Salem, Sprague and West Salem were all over 90%.

“We really are pleased with the trajectory of our achievement and getting kids across the finish line,” Udosenata said.