Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Plans for Keizer schools in district’s bond ask

Of the Keizertimes

The Salem-Keizer School District released the final version of a Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP)  last week. The document details how a $619.2 million general obligation bond would be used to upgrade school buildings and increase capacity at area high schools.

The Salem-Keizer School Board approved the bond request in June and it will be on the ballot in May 2018.

An 18-person committee of stakeholders and citizens was assembled last year to recommend changes that would increase capacity at area schools. The group initially came up with a a bond proposal of $766 million, which would have increased property taxes by about $3 per thousand of assessed value. After taking public input, the scope of some of the projects were narrowed and the $619 million bond ask was approved. If voters approve the bond, property taxes would increase between $1.28 and $1.39 per thousand of assessed value.

The average price of recently-sold homes in Keizer is about $275,000. At the highest rate, the bond would increase taxes by about $380 per year for the one of those homes.

The final LRFP includes $443.5 million for capacity and core infrastructure improvements, $66 million for seismic preparation, $33 million for safety and security, $73.5 million for non-routine maintenance, $9.5 million for technology, and $3.7 million for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

While McKay High School and its feeder schools are projected to need the largest increase in capacity during the next 20 years, the McNary area schools are in the top three. At the Keizer elementary level, schools will need to accommodate 140 more students during that time. Claggett Creek Middle School is projected to need space for about 100 more students while Whiteaker Middle School is sufficient for the expected ebb and flow of students to the area. McNary High School is already 10 percent over capacity – even with portable classrooms – and the student body is expected to surge by as many as 200 students around 2025.

The final recommendation includes site-specific upgrades for several Keizer schools:

• Cummings Elementary School would get a renovation to its cafeteria and a renovation/remodel of the main office to improve security.

• Gubser Elementary School would have its gym renovated; a cafeteria added; and get three additional classrooms.

• Keizer Elementary School would get a gym renovation; a cafeteria added; its library renovated; and four additional classrooms.

• Kennedy Elementary School would get a cafeteria renovation and four additional classrooms.

• Claggett Creek would receive renovations or additions to its cafeteria and library and two additional science classrooms.

• Whiteaker would get an additional science classroom as well as a renovation/remodel of the main office to improve security.

• McNary would be part of a program to increase capacity at most district high schools to 2,200 students. The current capacity with portable classrooms is about 1,850. Changes would include the addition of 18 new teaching stations – 14 general classrooms, one science lab, one STEM (science, technology, engineering math) room and two career-technical education rooms.

The exact look of the renovations is yet to be determined, but Mike Wolfe, the district’s chief operations officer, said committees would be established at each school to hammer out the details.

McNary is one of the more land-locked schools in the district which would likely mean purchasing additional land for expansion.