6 things to know: Salem-Keizer task force recommendations


6 things to know: Salem-Keizer task force recommendations

Published 12:50 p.m. PT March 15, 2017 | Updated 18 hours ago

A new elementary school. Dozens of new science labs. Fewer portable classrooms.

These are just a few of the ways the Salem-Keizer School District could change in the next decade or so, based on recommendations from a citizens task force.

The list of proposed changes and improvements for the district, which could cost upwards of $700 million, were summarized in a report.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report and an idea of what will happen next.

What are the proposed changes?

The recommendations include removing portable classrooms at multiple locations; replacing the existing Auburn Elementary School; adding or renovating gyms, cafeterias, classrooms, and libraries; and changing the boundaries of four of the six traditional high school feeder systems. All six high schools would have capacity changes.

Here are some of the changes:

  • Elementary schools ($128 million):   At 22 elementary schools, infrastructure issues such as inadequate cafeterias, gymnasiums, common areas, libraries, and end-of-life (EOL) portables would be addressed at each location. A new elementary school would replace the existing Auburn school; the existing Auburn school could be repurposed to support early learning programs allowing the district to reduce lease costs.
  • Middle schools ($49 million): Work at eight schools is needed. Replace aging portables at three middle schools needing core infrastructure additions with classroom additions to provide adequate classroom space. Add 27 science labs across the district’s middle schools to meet instructional needs through 2025. This allows the district to offer a full year of science instruction in middle school.
  • High schools ($266 million): The subcommittee recommends enhancing five of the existing high schools’ capacity to support 2,200 students. West Salem High School would be enhanced to support 2,000 students. Core infrastructure issues such as inadequate cafeterias, gymnasiums, common areas, libraries, auditoriums, athletic facilities, and portables would be addressed at each location. Add 12 science labs across the District’s high school, which will ensure all high schools have a minimum of two properly designed and equipped chemistry labs and meet known instructional needs through at least 2025. Increase existing Career and Technical Education (CTE) opportunities at all high schools by adding equipment and enhanced space. Additionally, expand new CTE opportunities as deemed appropriate by district staff.
  • Seismic Considerations ($56 million to $151 million): Upgrade schools rated very high or high for collapse potential in a seismic event to life safety seismic standards.

Who is affected?

The recommendations impact 22 elementary schools, all 11 middle schools, and all six traditional high schools.

Elementary schools: Hallman, Hayesville, Hoover, Scott, Swegle, Yoshikai,  Cummings, Gubser, Keizer, Kennedy,  Grant, Eyre, Four Corners,  Candalaria, McKinley, Pringle,  Schirle, Sumpter,  Chapman Hill,  Harritt, Myers.

How much could it cost?

Though the cost estimates are in the beginning stages, Michael Wolfe, chief operations officer for the district, said the total cost could range from $671 to $766 million, depending on how much is spent on seismic considerations.

Jay Remy, a spokesperson for the district, said this number shows the needs in the district, but officials will have to decide which recommendations to pursue and the feasibility of each item.

How would it be paid for?

The task force recommended the board pursue a general obligation bond. This would impact taxpayers similarly to past bonds.

When will it go into effect?

There is no specific date when the changes would be complete. However, the recommendations are meant to address needs within the next couple decades.

The State of Oregon, via ORS 195.110, requires large school districts to maintain a facility plan that looks at district facility needs at least ten years into the future. The recommendations are based on enrollment projections for the next twenty years.

Additionally, many of the previous bonds for the district are projected to be paid by 2021, which could influence the timeline of a new bond for these recommendations.

What is the timeline for the board to make decisions?

The school board will now review the report, clarify questions, and discuss what they want to implement, and how, moving forward.

They plan to meet next week to go over their initial responses and questions. The next Salem-Keizer School Board business meeting is April 11.

For more information or to read the full report, go to www.salemkeizer.org/district/citizens-facilities-task-force or call 503-399-3001. A recording of Tuesday’s board meeting can be viewed online at www.cctvsalem.org.

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist.

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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