How can the district pay for the renovations, upgrades and increased capacity schools and buildings need? What are those facility needs, and how much will they cost? These, and other facility-related questions have been the focus of discussions at Citizens Facilities Task Force meetings, which began in November 2016.
The volunteer group has been working hard to review items in the district’s draft Long Range Facilities Plan, and to review funding options available to the district to pay for the facility work needed. The Task Force held its final meeting on February 27, 2017.
The draft plan outlines additions, renovations, repairs, and upgrades needed at schools and district department facilities to accommodate growing enrollment, ensure facilities support educational programs and instructional approaches, plan for non-routineongoing maintenance, make seismic upgrades, and enhance school safety and security.
Currently, five of Salem-Keizer’s six comprehensive high schools are near or over capacity. To address enrollment in previous years, portable classrooms were installed at elementary, middle and high schools. Many of these portables are at or near the end of their useful lives, and need to be replaced with either new portables or classroom additions. While these additional portables have provided much needed classroom space, they have added stress to schools’ core infrastructures, such as libraries gyms, and cafeterias, libraries and auditoriums. These spaces now need to be expanded repaired and renovated to adequately serve the larger student enrollments.
Building improvements are also needed to ensure facilities are able to support current and future instructional practices. This means more science labs, educational technology, and Career and Technical Education spaces.
The Task Force reviewed funding options available to the district that could pay for work needed. The final Task Force meeting ended with consensus among the members on the contents of a recommendation to the School Board about how to fund the Capital Improvements portion of the plan. A draft recommendation is being prepared, and will be presented to the School Board at its Tuesday, March 14, 2017, meeting.