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School board sets limit on bond ask

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Of the Keizertimes

Salem-Keizer School Board members agreed at a special meeting Monday that the proposed school improvement bond should stay within $620 million.

A recent survey discussed at the meeting showed that district voters were particularly concerned about more space for music classes and more services for special education. It was agreed that staff should look for ways to shift some money from other items to those areas, to safety measures, and to more space for Junior ROTC.

Michael Wolfe, district chief operating officer, noted concerns about having enough space for science classes and said there was enough flexibility in classrooms now available to provide the needed space. Wolfe added that the staff would look each year at expansion needs generally for growth in full-time equivalent enrollment.

Lisa Harnisch, co-chair of a political action committee promoting the bond proposal, said her committee had found most people receptive to approving a bond.

A recent questionnaire from the district on opinions of the bond proposal asked parents three questions and requested responses of “positive,” “negative,” and “other.” The district-wide questions and responses:

“Does the concept meet your vision for growth of the school?” Positive 70 percent, negative 19 percent, other 12 percent.

“Does this concept support your child’s learning?” Positive 77 percent, negative 10 percent, other 13 percent.

“Does this concept support your child’s safety?” Positive 69 percent, negative 11 percent, other 20 percent.

For the McNary High School attendance area, here are the results by numbers of responses:

Question 1: Positive 18, negative 12, other 1.

Question 2: Positive 24, negative 6, other 0.

Question 3: Positive 26, negative 1, other 5.

Some parents in the McNary area responded with comments. Parents of McNary students urged more room for the orchestra, negotiation with St. Edward’s Church for more land, and moving the softball field to the area that has been proposed for parking.

A Gubser Elementary School parent called for more classroom space and a better place for the orchestra. Another Gubser parent urged moving the cafeteria to the southeastern part of the campus.

A Keizer Elementary School parent said, “This does not support my child’s learning if we don’t address class size caps.”

A Kennedy Elementary School parent called for making a seismic upgrade the highest priority and for replacing older portable classrooms.

The bond vote is scheduled for the May 2018 ballot.