Salem Public Schools Update

News for our families from Salem Public Schools

A note from Steve Zrike, Superintendent


Salem families,

I want to invite all caregivers and community members to attend one of two budget forums on Monday, March 8th or Wednesday, March 17th from 6-7:30 pm (see flyer below for details on how to join). This is an opportunity to learn more about our strategic initiatives and goals and their connection to a set of initial budget ideas. Most importantly, we want to hear from you to get your thoughts on possible investments for next year’s budget. We want to know how we should spend our precious resources as we return from a pandemic that has resulted in significant student learning loss and expanded mental health concerns. Your voices matter and are essential to ensure that our budget request is aligned to our priorities and the community’s expectations for our schools.

Please remember that at the School Committee meeting on Monday, March 15th, I will share a proposal for returning more students to a 5-day a week schedule in April. We are in the midst of designing a plan that considers student/educator health and safety, staffing, space and the newest guidance released by the Department of Education. Finally, this week we were thrilled to learn that the vaccine will soon be available to educators. We are working to establish educator specific locations and appointment windows to expedite staff access to the vaccine.

Enjoy the weekend,


Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Employee Engagement Appointed

We are pleased to share that Ms. Mary DeLai was appointed Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Employee Engagement at the School Committee meeting this past Monday. Mary has been serving in an interim capacity since the start of the school year and has distinguished herself as a knowledgeable and dedicated leader who is fiercely committed to focusing on the needs of our students and staff.

Join Us for a Community Budget Forum!

Please join us for ONE of our virtual community budget forums!

Hear about our strategic priorities, the budget planning process & offer input for the SY21-22 budget. Register for ONE of the community forums. Visit the link for the desired date below and provide your name and email address.

March 8, 2021 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Register in advance for this meeting at:


March 17, 2021 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Register in advance for this meeting at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. We look forward to hearing your voice as part of our budget planning process. Please join us.

Cone of Excellence Award

At Salem Public Schools, we are recognizing one staff member a week who exemplifies our core values of celebrating differences, facilitating collaboration, fostering innovation, creating equity and access, growing all students, and upholding high standards for all. We are surprising a deserving SPS team member with a construction cone that displays the words: “Awesome,” “Well Done,” or “Great Job.”

This week’s Cone of Excellence is awarded to Carlton Physical Education teacher, Frank James. Although a veteran in SPS, Mr. James is in his first year at Carlton and has learned all the students’ names and their likes/dislikes. Throughout the pandemic, he has been incredibly flexible facilitating extra classes if needed, assisting at Saltonstall School and providing breaks for students when needed. We are always grateful for his “can do” attitude!

Student COVID Testing

Do you know that your child can have a free and easy COVID-19 test weekly while they are in their classroom? We have made it simple to add this extra layer of protection for all our staff and students. All you need to do is provide consent for your child once and they will be able to participate in this in-school testing weekly.

To register and provide consent, please go to this page on our website and click the link for your child’s school. Please remember, you are completing the form for your child, not for you (a quick check recommended by the organization is to make sure you’re putting in your student’s date of birth, not yours). You must complete the form (one for each child) by clicking “consent” on the last page. That’s it! Help us keep our schools safe and enroll your student today!

*Last-minute update: We have received notification that there may be issues with the Project Beacon website. If you experience an error please wait a day and try again. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Dr. Zrike's Strategic Objectives, Priorities and Goals

As part of Dr. Zrike's entry plan, he has created a document of findings and strategic priorities that he has identified as areas of focus. This document has been shaped by the countless conversations and input sessions that Dr. Zrike has had with stakeholders- staff, students, parents, School Committee members, and community leaders- since he started in July. The invaluable feedback he received informs a series of strategic priorities, initiatives, and goals that build from the existing Salem Public Schools' strategic plan. It is not meant to overhaul the current plan, but rather to prioritize and focus on critical work that still needs to be accomplished. Equity must be at the core of these efforts, the lens through which we examine everything we do and serve as the operating principle through which we ground our improvement.

Dr. Zrike genuinely wants your feedback on these priorities, initiatives, and metrics in advance of his formal presentation to the School Committee on Monday, March 1st.

If you are interested in additional conversations, you can email or complete the aforementioned form and include your name and interest at the bottom.

ParentChild+ Program

The ParentChild+ Program envisions a world where every child enters school ready to succeed because every parent/caregiver has the knowledge, skills, and resources to build school readiness that starts at home where the parent/caregiver is recognized as the child’s first teacher. The ParentChild+ Program is a FREE in-home early literacy and school readiness program for families with children 18 months - 3 years old for families who reside in Salem.

During home visits, being in person or virtual, we focus on vocabulary, recognizing colors, letters, numbers and learning through play. The ParentChild + Program consists of a two-school year cycle. The visits are a half-hour, twice-a-week. Families will receive 92 home visits and acquire a free library of:
• 46 high-quality books and educational toys
• 46 curricular guide sheets with tips on vocabulary building, engaging conversation, skill development, social- emotional development, imaginative play, literacy, music, and art activities.

An Early Learning Specialist will either conduct the visit in the home or via FaceTime or Zoom. The Early Learning Specialist models reading, conversation, and play activities to stimulate parent/caregiver-child interaction and promote the development of language, thinking, and social skills critical for children’s long-term success.

Early Learning Specialists develop close bonds and become trusted advisors and can connect families to a wide range of community resources and programming including food, housing, health care, and educational services. All our early learning specialists are former program parents. Over the course of the program, families share a love of learning and experience success that will last a lifetime and will change their lives.

For more information contact:
Maureen Pasek-Tourville, ParentChild+ Program Manager
Phone: 978-998-9327 Email:

Choosing a School for Your Incoming Kindergarten Student?

Registration is open for Kindergarten enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year. (Child must be 5 years old on or before August 31st.) We know that choosing a school can be daunting, but you can’t go wrong! Check out these videos that highlight each of our schools, give you a glimpse into their personalities, and introduce you to what kindergarten can look like for your student.

Good news for SNAP recipients and P-EBT cards

Project Bread recently announced that the House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan which will provide relief to those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis in MA. This bill would not only extend the critical 15% boost in SNAP benefits to last through September, providing $28 more dollars each month per person, but it would also extend the Pandemic EBT through the summer, ensuring that families can continue to purchase groceries for their kids. Along with this, the American Rescue Plan will increase the amount of fruits and vegetables pregnant or breastfeeding women or those with infants or children under 5 can purchase through WIC by about $35 per month until the end of September.

Thank you to our representatives for voting in favor of provisions that will help more of our neighbors access food and for making it a priority to address food insecurity as part of COVID-19 relief.

ST Math - February Challenge Winners

Congratulations to the ST Math February Challenge winners!

Kindergarten: Ms. Collins' class from HMLS

1st grade: Mr. Alvarez's class from Carlton

2nd grade: Ms. Addison’s class from WHES

3rd grade: Ms. Peterson’s class from Bates

4th grade: Ms. Darcy’s 8:15 class from HMLS

4/5 Combo Class: Ms. Bythrow’s class from Carlton

5th grade: Ms. Matherson’s 5DH class from Saltonstall

5/6 Combo Class: Ms. Andrew’s class at Saltonstall

6th grade: Ms. Matherson’s 6CM from Saltonstall

Congrats to all our winners! Don’t forget - There is a new March ST Math Challenge! It is a teacher’s choice challenge and they will pick 3 winners in their classes. Check in with your teacher to see what the math challenge for March entails. Good luck!

The virtual Backpack

Welcome to the Virtual Backpack. This is a space where we will place items that in the past may have been a flyer in your student's backpack from friends and partners to SPS.

2021 Salem Little League, T-ball, Baseball, and Softball information

Download the ParentSquare app today!

A reminder that ParentSquare is the district platform for communication. You will receive communication from the district, your school, and your student's classroom all in one space. You can communicate 1-to-1 with teachers, sign up for parent-teacher conferences, and more.

This is how the schools will communicate with families districtwide going forward. Please be sure you are receiving messages from ParentSquare. If you are having trouble, contact your school's front office. You can visit for more information.

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