Superintendent’s Budget Message
A Message from Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike:
It is my pleasure to share the Salem Public Schools (SPS) recommended budget for the 2022 fiscal year. The recommended budget of $66,597,919 million represents an increase of 3.6% from FY 2021. This budget was designed with our district vision, values, and priorities at the forefront so that we can deliver on our promise to ensure that all students will be locally engaged, globally connected, and fully prepared to thrive in a diverse and changing world.
As part of our revised strategic plan, we have established four priority areas- build a robust talent development system for all students, strengthen the pre-K to post-secondary experience, effectively meet the social/emotional and behavioral needs of all students and create a vision for engaging their families and design and implement data-informed systems that ensure equitable use of resources and accountability for outcomes. Each of these priorities are accompanied by a series of initiatives that will drive our work on behalf of students and families in Salem. This will allow us to be more focused and targeted in our efforts to realize game changing results for children. Our priorities and initiatives are as follows:
Build a robust talent development system for all students.
A. Diversify the workforce by building a strategic approach to talent: Strengthen the recruitment, induction, ongoing development, career pathways, and retention of educators to ensure that SPS has a workforce that reflects the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our students.
B. Cultivate culturally and linguistically responsive, social justice-driven staff: Ensure that all staff have the skills and mindsets to identify and dismantle systems of oppression, address biases, and implement culturally and linguistically responsive practices.
C. Develop staff to position schools as the unit of change: Grow leader capacity to drive improvement and change at the school and classroom level.
Strengthen the pre-K to post-secondary experience.
A. Expand high-quality early childhood education: Partner with community organizations to develop and implement a plan to increase access to high-quality learning experiences for Salem children, including expanding bilingual options.
B. Focus on developing independent learners: Develop students’ ability to engage with cognitively demanding work, while holding high expectations for all, using culturally relevant pedagogy, and providing access to grade level content and skills.
C. Create a shared vision for the high school experience with equity at the center: Clearly define, communicate, and implement high school redesign to increase equity and opportunity for all students.
Effectively meet the social/emotional and behavioral needs of all students and create a vision for engaging their families.
A. Empower students: Increase opportunities for students to lift their voices and strengthen agency and ownership of their educational experiences.
B. Engage families as partners: Build educator capacity to authentically engage with families as partners. Provide multiple, accessible opportunities for parents, schools, and the district to participate in two-way communication through a variety of tools and strategies.
C. Align structures for students’ social-emotional supports: Define a coherent, multi-tiered and restorative system of support for all students.
Design and implement data-informed systems that ensure equitable use of resources and accountability for outcomes.
A. Allocate resources strategically and operate efficiently: Leverage our resources, assets, and operational practices to improve outcomes for students.
B. Create strong systems of accountability: Establish clear goals and measures at the district, school, and classroom levels to ensure investments are leading to desired results.
C. Develop effective data systems: Improve accessibility of academic, non-academic, financial, human resource and operational data for all staff. Ensure all personnel have the capacity to utilize data to monitor and analyze student achievement to develop short- and long-term goals and action plans.
We have allocated our finite resources in accordance with these commitments. More specifically, during our five budget forums and as part of our community wide survey, we have solicited input on the best way to direct resources in alignment with our strategic plan. This feedback proved invaluable as we developed our operating budget proposal and in planning how to best utilize our local and federal grant funding. We worked aggressively to invest in programs, materials and positions that are responsive to the voices of our constituents and serve to positively impact the SPS student learning experience.
To fund these essential priorities and maintain other critical services, the Salem Public Schools are relying on a slight increase in the Commonwealth’s funding, the continued and generous support from the city of Salem and one-time revenue in the form of federal and state grants. While this one-time revenue allows us to make strategic investments in Fiscal Year 2022, we must be thoughtful and judicious as it will be challenging to sustain these funding levels in future years. Given this reality, we will work hard over the next two to three years to plan accordingly so that our improvement efforts are not compromised.
In submitting this strategic budget, I want to extend my gratitude to our Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Employment Engagement, Ms. Mary DeLai, the SPS Finance Subcommittee, the SPS executive team, department heads, school-based administrators and the countless stakeholders who offered feedback throughout our extensive budget engagement process. We appreciate the continued support of our students, families, educators, School Committee members, Mayor Driscoll, elected officials, and Salem taxpayers to provide the young people of Salem with the educational experience they deserve.