To the Editor:
Hooray for Cummings Elementary School Principal Martina Mangan and school crossing guard Carol Doerfler for advocating for sidewalks adjacent to Cummings School. A sidewalk is more than a decade overdue. Cummings Elementary, built in 1953, replaced the original wooden Keizer School. When constructed, Cummings was the only functioning school in the Keizer area. Since then, McNary High School, the two middle schools and five elementary schools have been added within the city. Keizer became a city in 1982. A year later the population was 19,650 and by 2016 had increased to 37,505 residents.
The sidewalk near Cummings is the city’s responsibility not the school district’s. The Salem-Keizer School District is challenged to make ends meet with increasing student enrollment and growing societal demands for services beyond the classroom. Statewide budget shortfalls are causing school districts to make cuts to their 2017-2018 budgets. The Salem-Keizer District estimates a deep cut of about $6 million smaller than the current school year. Traffic Safety Committee member Kathy Lincoln’s statement: “If we can get some cooperation and investment from the school district it might help the process along,” is completely unrealistic.
Times have changed and the city must be responsive to the safety needs of students and their families. Continuing with an outdated budget is not responsible for meeting an expanding city’s needs. Keizer City Council and the Traffic Safety Committee should plan for and write a budget that includes sidewalks near schools. Verda Lane is another example of a heavily trafficked road near two schools used by elementary and middle school students. As Keizer grows investment improving infrastructure in residential areas impacted by that growth needs to be a top priority.