Salem-Keizer School Board to vote on budget making deep cuts

The 2023-24 Salem-Keizer School Board in the boardroom on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

The Salem-Keizer School Board on Tuesday will hold a public hearing and then vote on adopting a budget that makes deep cuts to the upcoming school year.

The vote is the final step in a process that has consumed much of the school year after Superintendent Andrea Castañeda announced plans last summer to trim tens of millions from the district’s budget via a process that included laying off 112 employees in May.

View the agenda here.

Budget includes:

The board will first hold a public hearing and then vote on adopting the district’s $1.1 billion proposed 2024-25 budget which eliminates nearly 400 jobs.

The district’s general fund is $646.5 million, which includes $60 million in contingency funds to deal with unexpected expenses. 

That’s up from a $625 million general fund this year, which included a $34 million contingency. That was a level former Superintendent Christy Perry called “dangerously low” in presenting her final budget last year.

Job cuts made in May included the layoff of 112 employees, most of them teachers. That was part of a deeper cut of about 377 total jobs, some of which were vacant. Many employees whose jobs were eliminated moved into other vacant positions.

Money saved by deeply cutting into the district workforce is almost entirely consumed by rising wages and benefit costs. In total, the general fund includes $520 million to pay employees and cover the cost of benefits.

That’s slightly less than this year’s payroll budget of $522 million but with a workforce cut by 300 jobs in the general fund. The remaining jobs being cut are in other funds paid for by grants.

Cuts include the district’s dental health coordinator, who managed free dental screenings across school, the Air Force JROTC program at McNary High School and most of the district’s instructional mentors, experienced teachers who help .

The district provided Salem Reporter a list of positions cut in response to a public records request, but has not yet provided a detailed list of programs cut for the upcoming school year.

The positions cut include 152 teachers, 56 instructional mentors, 24 school-based health assistants, 36 instructional assistants, 12 bus drivers, 10 custodians, eight assistant principals, 11 district supervisors, 14 administrative assistants and secretaries and six graduation coaches.

Superintendent evaluation

The board will vote on approving a laudatory evaluation of Castañeda. The evaluation is discussed in non-public meetings before a public summary is approved by the board.

The written summary says Castañeda “has done an outstanding job in her relationships and communications to the board, staff, and community. She joined our district and community in a trying and challenging moment and without hesitation has been communicative, timely and transparent to ensure our schools continue to thrive even in the face of difficult budget cuts.”

They also cited her work leading “gracefully and courageously” through labor negotiations and subsequent efforts to identify inadequate state funding as the larger issue facing the school district.

Student advisers

The school board will appoint one or two high school students to serve as non-voting advisers for the coming year.

Five students, who will be seniors next year, applied for the job:

  • Kaiden Armstead, McKay High School
  • Henry ‘Adyn’ Baker, West Salem High School
  • Caleb ‘C.J.’ Bartlett, EDGE (online school program)
  • Sofia Castellanos Del Rio, South Salem High School
  • Sydney Moneke, West Salem High School

Other business

The board will consider approving a proclamation for Pride Month, and will receive reports about 2024 graduation and more detailed information about the district’s overhead and administrative positions in response to questions raised during the budget committee process.

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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