School board marks $42M for repairs

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By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Use of remaining bond funds primarily for repair and renovation of schools was approved at Tuesday’s Salem-Keizer School Board meeting.

The available funds from the 2008 bond total about $66.7 million, of which about $42 million would go repair and renovation after allocating $15 million over the next six years, at $2.5 million per year, for school infrastructure needs, and $10 million for reserves to address pending litigation and unforeseen circumstances.

The bond funds have paid for construction of three elementary schools and one middle school and 277 repairs and renovations in 49 existing schools. Superintendent Sandy Husk told the board that all the work had been completed “on time, under budget, within scope and of high quality.”

She noted that such factors as changes in the economy, the competitive bid environment, lower inflation and strong program management had made about $51.5 million of bond funds still available.

A report from the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, which the board received at an August work session, recommended the uses of the remaining funds that the board approved Tuesday.

The vote for approval was 6-1. Director Jeff Faville opposed the motion because it allocated nothing for debt reduction.

Also approved was listing of the former Middle Grove Elementary School for sale.

The board had voted in May to move Middle Grove students to Chavez Elementary School and repurpose Middle Grove. Since then, staff considered using the building for the district’s community transition program, a special education program for students aged 18 through 21. A move from the current leased space to the Middle Grove building would have saved $75,000 annually in lease costs, but renovations to the building would have been necessary, with the initial cost conservatively estimated at $250,000.

Staff recommended listing the building, saying the benefits of a sale were like to outweigh those of keeping and retrofitting the site.  The board voted 5-2 in favor; Faville and Director Ron Jones opposed listing it, arguing that lowered property values made it a bad time to sell.

Approved unanimously was $6,748,263 in grant budgets for a high school graduation initiative, human resources, raising student achievement, increasing enrollment of males in healthcare services programs, and expansion of winter and spring break lunch programs.

The board renewed a three-year subscription for a web security product, which this year involves a lower financing rate through US Bank in the form of a tax-exempt installment purchase agreement. The total saving over the three years will be $8,691.63

Also approved was the annual Hands and Words Are Not for Hurting Week proclamation.

Employment contracts approved by the board included those for:

• Douglas Hartman, less than half-time band teacher at Whiteaker Middle School.

• Kenneth Ernst, temporary full-time physical education teacher at Kennedy Elementary School.

• Julia Ortman, first-year probation part-time counselor at Clear Lake Elementary School.

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