State's third-largest bond program on budget and on track
Salem-Keizer Public Schools has completed a second busy construction season and is preparing for a third round of schools to break ground in 2021. As the third-largest K12 bond in the history of Oregon, the 2018 bond program is on budget and on track to deliver more work at more buildings in less time than any other school bond program in the history of the district.
Each year, bond construction wraps up at some schools, begins at others and starts design planning at yet more schools. The largest projects in the bond program can take up to a full year to plan, several months to select and hire contractors and 15 to 18 months to construct. This can add up to about three years of bond activity at those schools receiving major construction.
This means Salem and Keizer continue to experience a steady increase of construction-related activity. In 2020, sixteen school buildings started construction. The next calendar year is scheduled to be the busiest year of construction in the bond program with another 17 schools breaking ground during the year. These 17 schools will join eight schools still under construction from 2020 for a total of 25 buildings under construction at the same time in 2021.
An ambitious construction schedule
The district planned an aggressive delivery schedule in the 2018 bond program. Construction began in 2019 and the majority is planned to finish in 2024. In just six years, more than 65 buildings in the school district will have received close to $700 million in improvements and expansions.
“We intentionally planned an accelerated program so we could provide the promises of the bond to our community as quickly as possible,” said Mike Wolfe, Salem-Keizer’s chief operations officer. “Completing the work sooner than later also helps keep projects on budget by minimizing the escalation in costs we see each year and supports the economy at a time when it’s really needed.”
New spaces support Comprehensive Distance Learning, Limited In-Person Instruction
While it may seem there’s less urgency to complete the work since COVID-19 has closed schools to in-person learning, many teachers offer virtual lessons from their classrooms. The new spaces at schools support these efforts. “The new CTE space for the cabinetmaking program at North Salem High School was completed just in time to be used to adapt to Comprehensive Distance Learning,” said North Salem’s Cabinetmaking instructor, Andrew Chidwick. “This new state-of-the-art facility at North is also supporting McKay’s Woods program and South’s Manufacturing program during CDL while those schools are under construction. Even though students can’t yet be on campus to take advantage of the new resources, three teachers are using this space to create take-home kits and run live collaborative classes, as well as use the equipment to record creative instructional videos.”
Small groups of students who need special learning supports are able to return to buildings for Limited In-person Instruction (LIPI). Rigorous COVID safety protocols like enhanced cleaning, physical distancing, face coverings requirements and health screening questions are in place at schools. More than1,800 students have already been able to participate in LIPI in a one-week period.
“We really want to be back in schools, with our students,” said Superintendent Christy Perry. “When that can happen safely, we’ll be ready to serve them in amazing new, modern spaces, thanks to this bond.”
The 2018 bond promises some level of improvement at all schools in the district, and more than half of the district’s schools are planned to receive major renovations or expansions.
In May of 2018, voters in Salem and Keizer passed a $619.7 million general obligation bond – the third-largest school bond in Oregon history at the time. Since the bond passed, the approved program has grown to over $700 million thanks to market premiums, earnings on bond proceeds, grants and reimbursements.
Interested in starting your career serving more than 40,000 each day in Salem-Keizer? Summer is the perfect time to find your next opportunity. Salem-Keizer will be hosting job fairs for many positions in July and August.
Salem-Keizer Public Schools promotes equal opportunity for all individuals without regard to age, color, disability, marital status, national origin, race, religion or creed, sex or gender, sexual orientation, or veteran status. For more information, please view our Nondiscrimination /Title IX policy here.