The Salem-Keizer school board is expected to vote Tuesday night if it wishes to renew its charter agreement with Howard Street Charter School for the next five years.
The vote comes after years of major changes at the school, including funding changes and a move to downtown Salem.
Howard Street, which teaches grades 6 to 8, is the oldest of the four charter schools of Salem-Keizer Public Schools. It accepts students from across the district and receives per-student funding from the Oregon Department of Education. It currently has 192 students.
The school is unique in its structure as students are required to take art, drama, Spanish, and STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – classes every three years. In addition, each student has a mentor and participates in the school’s humanities program.
The school displays attendance rates and state assessment scores in English, Science and Math which are above Oregon averages, as well as above-average graduation rates.
In fact, data from 2018-19 shows that students who attended Howard Street for at least a year had an average four-year high school graduation rate of 93%, compared to the district’s overall rate. about 79%.
Howard Street Charter School greatly appreciates the opportunity to continue to work collaboratively with the Salem-Keizer School District as part of our common goal of providing the highest quality educational services to (Salem-Keizer) students and to their families, ”wrote Kelby Childers, Howard Chairman of the Street Charter School board, in their renewal request.
Changes in location, funding
Since its inception in 1997, Howard Street students have been taught in the South Salem High School Annex.
But in 2017, Howard Street officials were told they would have to vacate the building by the start of the 2019-20 school year to allow South Salem to reach the enrollment capacity desired by the District of 2,200 students.
And just months before they were told to move, the school board voted to reduce Howard Street’s funding by about $ 185,000 – about 15% – to match it to other charters in the district.
Howard Street was then approved to increase enrollment as a measure to help recover the money needed for the transition.
In 2018, Howard Street officials set their sights on the First Christian Church extension building downtown, located at 625 Marion St. NE, near Cinebarre Movieland 7.
The location is more centralized and accessible, principal Christina Tracy said at the time, adding that it is only a few blocks from the bus station, which would be useful for students without transportation. individual.
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Howard Street was remodeled and moved to the new location before classes began in early 2020.
The building includes two music rooms and science labs that the school did not have at its previous location. It has a larger kitchen and a computer lab, decorated with graphic posters made by students.
It has gender-neutral washrooms, wheelchair-accessible areas and elevators, and a staff lounge – a new luxury for teachers, Tracy said. It also features many eco-friendly aspects including 20 solar panels on the roof, water bottle filling stations, food composting and energy saving LED lights.
“It’s good for 2020 now, not 1927,” Tracy said in January.
Then the pandemic struck. And like schools around the world, Howard Street has had to adapt.
Due to COVID-19, school officials said they did not yet have a “normal” admission cycle in the new location.
Staff questions, student diversity
Things continued to change in 2021 when the Oregon state legislature was passed Bill 2954, which allows public charter schools to implement a weighted lottery system that favors historically underserved students.
This is likely to impact the demographics of Howard Street in the future.
Howard Street leaders have presented the school’s diversity in past meetings, with some board members previously criticizing it for not adequately reflecting the diversity of the area.
In the 2020-21 school year, 78% of the 187 students enrolled at the time identified themselves as white. The second-largest cohort of students were Hispanic students, who made up 12% of the student body, according to Howard Street’s state bulletin.
By comparison, 42% of students at all public schools in Salem-Keizer identify as white and 45% identify as Hispanic, in October 2021.
The school board will vote on Tuesday
The school board will review these details and more at the next business meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11, before voting on the renewal of the charter agreement.
The meeting will be held virtually only and will start at 6:00 p.m. It will be broadcast live in English and in Spanish on YouTube and will also be broadcast on CC: Media, channel 21. English closed captions are available through CC: Media television and YouTube.
Depending on the agenda, 45 minutes will be allotted for hearing comments from the public via Zoom or by calling. This time will be given priority to hear comments on the board’s actions, including the Howard Street vote.
Each speaker has three minutes; more time is allowed if the testimony is to be interpreted into English. Written comments can also be submitted.