The school board also approved the district's updated LGBTQ+ Pride Month Proclamation.
Public testimony during the virtual meeting varied on both subjects.
A few community members said the budget was an improvement when it came to investing money previously allocated to school resource officers, or SROs, into more mental health resources and staff to support historically marginalized students. Some said the district still has too many security officials in local schools. Another urged the district to bring back SROs.
Some testified in support of the LGBTQ+ proclamation, though one in favor still said "passing it without real change is performative at its peak," meaning it seemed they were only doing it for appearance's sake. Another testified against it, arguing the district is "grooming children" and "setting them up to be pornographic addicts."
Director Danielle Bethell was not present during the meeting. Director Satya Chandragiri left the meeting early to go to the airport but said he supported the budget during committee hearings. Director Marty Heyen did not support either item.
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Salem-Keizer adopts 2022-23 budget
This year's budget comes in at more than $100 million less than last year's adopted budget of $1.49 billion. However, this doesn't mean the district is spending less on important services, as previously reported by the Statesman Journal.
Most of this difference is due to the decreasing money left in the 2018 construction and improvement bond fund as projects are completed, Robert Silva, the district's chief operations officer, said in May.
The newly adopted budget includes investments to expand the district’s dual-language programs, a redesign of the secondary English Language Development program, social-emotional and behavioral supports, increased access to instruction for students with disabilities, as well as investments for what district officials described as "high-quality, rigorous" instruction.
An amendment was made by the budget committeeto the original proposal to allocate an additional 10 full-time equivalent, licensed teachers to reduce class sizes at the elementary level. This was an issue brought up during early budget hearings. The change is reflected in the adopted budget.
Not supporting the LGBTQ+ Pride Proclamation
Leading up to the vote on the annual pride proclamation, Heyen said she has historically voted in favor of it because she believes "every student has a right to an education without harassment or bullying."
However, she was the only board member Tuesday to not vote in favor of the proclamation − she abstained.
"Unfortunately, things have gone too far in this district," Heyen said, offering no further explanation Tuesday. "So, although I do support a harassment-free workspace for all employees ... and I care about all students, I will not be able to support this proclamation this year."
Also in the meeting, Heyen was the sole opposing vote on the adoption of the 2022-23 budget, the adoption of the board's annual resolutions, the vote to allow an additional student advisor on the board and the appointment of the two student candidates up for the appointment.
When the Statesman Journal requested comment via email after the meeting to explain why she voted as she did, Heyen only said, "We need to return to education of students."
On voting "no" for the approval of Raylin Brennan, a rising senior at Sprague High School, and Isaac McDonald, a rising senior at West Salem High School, as the next student advisors, Heyen told the Statesman Journal she didn't vote against them personally.
"I don't agree that we need multiple student advisors," she said. "I'm sure that they will both be great. It didn't make sense to me to vote against multiple advisors and then vote for multiple advisors."
Brennan and McDonald will serve as advisors to the school board through June 2023.
For more information, go to salkeiz.k12.or.us/schoolboard.
This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: School board approves $1.36 billion budget, LGBTQ proclamation