Making Democracy Work


School Budget (1977)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties believes that citizens should have more direct influence on the content of school budgets. This should be accomplished by involving the public earlier in the budget planning process at the beginning of the school year.

The Local School Advisory Committees should provide the machinery for communication between the public and the School Board and need to be involved in the budget-making process. The school administration needs to assure public participation early in the budget process.

All school programs need periodic and systematic evaluation to insure cost-effectiveness.

The League favors increasing state support to 50%, if accomplished by adequate property tax relief.

The League supports legislative efforts to stabilize Oregon public school finance and local control to assure accountability.

Building and Grounds (1996)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties approves of:

1. Increased funding for building needs of Salem/Keizer School District 24J;

2. The neighborhood concept of elementary and middle schools, and the adjoining park arrangement whenever possible;

3. Buildings should have a flexibility to serve present and future program needs.

4. Site selection procedures that include:

a. consistency with Comprehensive Plans, with attention to preserving the inner city area

b. site accessibility, including consideration of transportation modes, barriers, hazards, and coordination with transportation plans

c. specific siting criteria for elementary, middle and high schools

d. site availability (both vacant and redevelopable plots)

e. direct and indirect costs

f. attention to population diversity

g. public design review process

Community Schools (1982)

The League supports Community Schools that focus on programs for the whole community rather than in-school curriculum enrichment. The community schools model should be changed to make programs easily accessible to all.

When attendance figures for community school activities are compiled, a standard for obtaining an unduplicated headcount should be used. The attendance statistics at community school programs (e.g., slimnastics, quilting) should be separated from attendance figures for functions which would occur even if there were no community schools (e.g., parents club, music concerts).

Rescheduled School Year (1993)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties recognizes that learning declines in crowded conditions. Adding rooms and buildings may be necessary, but alternatives should be considered before construction begins, and the design of new buildings should provide for flexibility.

Grade reorganization and a changed school calendar may relieve crowding and provide other educational benefits as well. Grade reorganization, such as shifting sixth grade to middle school, is acceptable if proper adjustments to the social environment are made. A multi-track calendar is acceptable in elementary and middle schools. Split shifting may be a short-term solution in secondary schools, where the wide variety of courses makes a multi-track calendar difficult to implement.

There should be public hearings and other opportunities for input from all members of the community before major calendar changes are made. Such changes should first be piloted in a few schools and carefully evaluated for several years. Assessment should involve control groups and pre- and post-testing. Student and parent/guardian satisfaction and attitudes should also be measured. Elements of successful pilot projects should be retained even in times of financial hardship.

Since shortening the summer vacation and lengthening other vacations (year-round school) appears to result in greater learning retention for young children, there is value in piloting such a calendar. The results would be helpful in planning the implementation of HB 3565 [1991] or of a multi-track year-round calendar. Some of the time between the regular sessions of a year-round calendar should be used for remedial learning and enrichment.

School Hours for Secondary Students (2005)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties supports a school start time for middle and high school students no earlier than 8:30 a.m., in light of research on the sleep needs of adolescents.


Adolescents have a different sleep pattern than young children and adults. These patterns are affected by biological changes adolescents undergo during puberty, which make them fall asleep later at night and sleep later in the morning. Sleepiness is induced by the hormone melatonin, which, in the teen body is secreted about 11 p.m. and remains in the system until about 8 a.m. It is difficult, therefore, for teens to fall asleep before 11 p.m. Teens consistently need between 8.5 and 9.25 hours of sleep per night. Without adequate rest due to early school start times, adolescents are subject to early morning drowsiness, which affects their performance and behavior in school.

Scientific literature contains much research showing the advantages to adolescents getting adequate sleep. Besides having an effect on learning, adequate sleep also positively influences attendance and productivity in the first two class periods and reduces after-school idle time. Experience in school districts which have moved to later start times for middle and high school students indicates this change alone provides for more sleep for adolescents.

The LWVMPC acknowledges that, along with the many advantages to a later school start time for middle and high school students, there are other considerations that need to be addressed. These include student transportation, family schedules, and after-school activities. The LWVMPC feels that the benefits to a later school start time for middle and high school students outweigh the detriments.

Recognizing that changing to a later school start time for middle and high school students may result in an earlier school start time for elementary school students, LWVMPC encourages the Salem-Keizer School District to study in more detail a later school start time for middle and high school students. Such study must involve parents at all levels, students, school district representatives and community groups, including the League of Women Voters.

Growth Policies and Procedures (1981)

Members of the League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties support the establishment of growth policies and procedures by Salem/Keizer School District 24J.

Specifically, the School Board should:

1. Be involved in direct, regular, cooperative planning effort among city/county governments, especially in the early stages of planning;

2. Address both under-enrollment and over-enrollment, planning for them before they occur;

3. Review at least annually student population trends;

4. Work with developers and city/county planners to develop a policy addressing school site identification;

5. Send a representative to testify during the subdivision approval process regarding impact on schools (or earlier, in order to have effective input);

6. Ensure public input in the development of growth policies;

7. Establish standards and procedures that are firmly and consistently enforced.

Members of the League find these alternatives acceptable for dealing with the pressures of growth (the alternatives are not listed in order of preference):

1. On a long range basis:

  • New schools

  • Centralized facilities with planned modules

  • Mini-magnet schools

  • Year-round schools

2. On a short-range basis only:

  • Use of portables

  • Use of specialized rooms as regular classrooms

  • Busing to fill space

3. On both a long- and short-range basis:

  • 7-period day in the high schools

  • Boundary changes

The League believes the following are unacceptable for dealing with growth:

  • Elimination of higher level electives in high schools

  • Extended school day/year (six-day week)

  • Increase in class size

  • Double-shifting

Physical Education and Athletics (1976, updated 1992)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties believes that physical education and athletics are an important part of the total school curriculum and should provide a balance with other areas of a youngster's development. The League feels a planned and sequential program is essential for every school. The League supports increased efforts to achieve this end, including the use of P.E. area specialists to work with elementary teachers to improve programs. The League sees the need for more than one unit of P.E. at the high school level. We feel more emphasis should be placed on life-time fitness.

The League supports a greater emphasis on intramural sports, with a goal of 100% participation. In order to open up more opportunities for student participation, intramurals should receive a higher priority than interscholastic athletics. The League feels there is a definite place for athletics, but not at the expense of intramurals.

The League supports a greater emphasis on individual sports, providing a balance with team sports.

We support the need for more P.E. facilities, particularly at the elementary level, and the need to equalize use of the present facilities at the secondary level.

We support and encourage the District's compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination requirements.