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Old 01-30-2009, 03:42 PM
11 posts, read 50,660 times
Reputation: 12


OK, not to beat a dead horse, as I have read many a thread on Salem, but I have yet to really clarify my concern: What elementary schools are considered the best, and why? We are most likely moving to South Salem per my lengthy post below, which I apologize for, but I feel my question could better be answered if all things were taken into consideration.

We are hoping to move to Salem in the near future (one month? two?). I grew up in Springfield, went to OSU and met my wife there who grew up in Corvallis. My siblings all live in Portland and we would prefer to move there for the cultural activities/etc.; however, the potential job is in Salem and I have had enough with lengthy commutes (no thanks on the PDX-Salem commute suggestion). I am also attracted to the relatively inexpensive housing prices as we are currently a one-income family. We now live in Chicago (3 years), via St. Louis (1 year) and Denver (4 years). We love the "big city" lifestyle and have always lived in the downtown areas close to restaurants and nightlife and love having quick and easy access to everything a city has to offer. We have two small children (3 months and 4 years) and need to consider elementary school options as our oldest will be in kindergarten next year.

After sifting through tons of posts on this board and a few others, as well as family members' and our own experiences and opinions, I believe we're pretty set on moving to the South Salem area, primarily for the lower crime, the better schools (you tell me!), the general availability of single family homes for rent in our price range ($800-1,200/m) and close proximity to both the downtown area and my potential workplace. We would like to increase our biking as a primary mode of transportation (maybe) and will generally be homebodies as we settle in to a new city.

What are the best elementary schools (primarily for the K-3 levels, if that makes any difference) in the South Salem area? Our daughter is somewhat gifted (maybe that's just proud papa speaking), and we would love for her to be able to explore her passion for music, art and potentially learn another language. She currently is in an international language school in Chicago where she is picking up Spanish in pre-K (preschool). We would ideally love to live within walking distance to her school.

I have spent some time on the Oregon Dept. of Education School Report Cards website and have a general feel for what schools might work. I guess I'm having a difficult time wrapping my brain around where to go with the "Exceptional"- vs. "Strong"-rated schools. I was hoping that people with children in those area schools could help provide distinguishing factors that would facilitate our decision. Which schools are regarded most highly and why? I was also curious about the new elementary school to be built in South Salem - what is the likely time period on that development and what effect would that have on your recommendations?

Thank you in advance for your responses and opinions. Please don't hold back!
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Old 01-30-2009, 04:44 PM
Location: Salem, OR
14,706 posts, read 35,585,955 times
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All of the Salem-Keizer schools have art, music, and computers once a week, PE twice a week. I think Lee Elementary has a Spanish emersion program there, but the schools don't offer second languages in grade schools unless you go into one of the emersion programs. I know there is one out west as well, I think at Harritt.

I don't think there is "the best" down south. All of the schools are strong, probably with the exception of Liberty (gets average ratings), and they consistently get strong to exceptional ratings. Oregon is really laid back compared to Chicago. I went to Northwestern and we don't have suburbs like Kenilworth, Barrington, etc. Lake Oswego is probably our closest version of that in Portland. It is a completely different culture out here.

In Illinois, property taxes go directly to the schools. Wealthy areas have wealthy schools. In Oregon all of the property taxes go to the state and then are redistributed evenly based on student populations. What this does is give poor school districts more money, and wealthy school districts less. As a result we don't have that same dynamic that they do in Illinois where certain schools have a lot of prestige. It's just not the way things are out here.

I don't think the new school will do anything for changing the strength of the south Salem schools nor would it change any recommendations. I think it would take at least a couple of years for it to be built. Maybe for the 2010-2011 school year at best. The new school will help the other schools, probably get back to exceptional ratings. It's really hard to have exceptional ratings with crowded classrooms.
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Old 01-30-2009, 05:11 PM
11 posts, read 50,660 times
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Thanks for the quick response! It's such a shame PE is only relegated to twice a week these days. What do you think of the ratings system on the report cards? I am assuming we should stick with "Exceptional"- and "Strong"-rated schools. That leaves quite a long list. We have been looking at houses online in the Bush, Candalaria, McKinley, Morningside, Salem Heights and Wright school areas - what have you heard about those schools, in particular? That location would be somewhat closer-in to downtown and nearer to my place of work, both of which we prefer. We aren't sure about the neighborhood or how to get a good feel for the school without visiting it, which is difficult from 2,200 miles away. Is that neighborhood generally family-friendly? I would assume we should steer clear of Commercial and Liberty roads, in general. Hypothetically, if you had to pick one of those six schools and neighborhood boundaries to live in, which would you choose and why? Shirle is also a possibility for us, but we'd rather be a little bit further east, simply because of proximity to my potential employer.

Thanks again!

Last edited by dogood; 01-30-2009 at 05:25 PM..
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Old 01-30-2009, 06:01 PM
Location: Salem, OR
14,706 posts, read 35,585,955 times
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Wright has a male kindergarten teacher, Mr. James. I've heard nothing but raves about him. My kids went to private kindergarten and many parents chose to have him over private. He is the TAG (Talented and Gifted) coordinator for Wright as well. I have several friends in Candalaria and know a teacher there. All positives and they have a full day kindergarten program if that is of interest to you.

Bush is a new building and I don't know anyone that attends there, so I can't speak about it. McKinley is located in the Bush Park neighborhood and there are some gorgeous hold homes in there.

All of the neighborhoods that feed into those schools have families. They are all middle class neighborhoods with Candalaria, McKinley and Wright having some higher end homes within their boundaries.

All of these neighborhoods are totally different. Bush is located in central Salem. Lots of older cottage style homes in the boundaries. Candalaria was mostly built out in the 1950-1970 time frame so the neighborhoods have a lot of old trees, and ranch style homes. McKinley is in the Bush Park neighborhood so old homes feed into that neighborhood. Morningside and Salem Heights are very working class/middle class neighborhoods. Wright is a very middle class neighborhood, lots of parental involvement at that school.
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Old 01-30-2009, 07:51 PM
11 posts, read 50,660 times
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Are there any neighborhoods within walking distance to resturants, coffee shops, library, book stores, parks, shopping etc that also have good schools? We don't want to live the suburban lifestyle. We like sidewalks and homes with character and charm. Nothing cookie cutter.
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:07 PM
Location: Salem, OR
14,706 posts, read 35,585,955 times
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If you want older home charm, like bungalows, cape cods, etc, then you'd want to look at the neighborhood surrounding Bush and McKinley.
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Old 06-14-2009, 10:05 PM
3 posts, read 23,575 times
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Default Re: Salem-Keizer Schools.

Of all those listed, it's in your best intrest, to send your kids to Baker Elementary. In the fairmont hill area. if you google "mahonia Hall" you'll find our governors mansion. which is, in fact in farmount. many old historic homes. over 300 of them are listed on the nation register of historic places. you're very close to downtown shopping, restraunts etc. With tons of tree's and pretty decent views of west salem, (depending on where you live) it makes for an extremely prestine neighborhood, Baker only houses grades 1-3. After grade three, they're sent to Mckinley. Then on to Leslie, and South, both outstanding schools. However Salem can prove to be a pretty lonley place for newcomers. especially in South Salem, as over %60 of us are natives. and it takes some time to integrate yourself with everyone.
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Old 12-23-2009, 12:06 AM
Location: Salem, OR
33 posts, read 119,553 times
Reputation: 84
Default helpful threads, I hope

I just posted these threads after reflecting on my own move to Salem 1.5 years ago. Hope they help.


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Old 05-30-2010, 12:43 AM
18 posts, read 64,845 times
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Hard to say. Lower class areas have lower scores due to less parental involvement. Bush isn't a bad school nor is Morningside. I attended both. Frankly I think the parents have more to do with the education of their child than do the teachers. I'd not venture a guess as to which is the better school.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:39 AM
Location: salem or
18 posts, read 42,191 times
Reputation: 11
i have lived in salem my WHOLE life. south salem is the SAFEST part in salem, but that is not saying much.

any school in salem sucks! in fact they all do. the people in south salem are better than the ones in north but they are stuck up! so if you have money you will do fine if not forget about it! (for some part) i feel bad that you are moving here this place sucks ..i use to go to high school in independence at central i did good there, then when i went to sprague high school my life went downhill. let me say this there are 2 types there you are rich or you are poor, the poor kids like i was were treated bad by the teachers and students alike. so the poor kids had noting but drugs to do, so the poor kids will only make friends if they are drugies .... now i know you did not say anything about high school but if you plan to live here long term you need to know this stuff...
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