Schools, church strike $2.26 million deal

A weeks-long standoff over six acres behind St. Edward Catholic Church came to an abrupt end on Valentine’s Day. 

Salem-Keizer Public Schools and the church leadership struck a $2.26 million deal for that land that will allow the district to proceed with plans to expand capacity at McNary High School.

“We recognize that like schools, churches are the hubs of the communities they serve, and we look forward to being good neighbors and partners. We appreciate their professionalism through this process,” said Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christy Perry in a statement.

The district was slated to take possession of the property on Tuesday, Feb. 19, which will allow the district to proceed with filing the permits it needs to begin construction this summer. 

The six acres behind the church are expected to become softball fields and a soccer pitch with limited parking and a driveway for special education buses to reach the campus. 

The current softball fields will be used for additional parking, tennis courts and a more streamlined pick-up and drop-off traffic pattern. 

McNary’s scheduled expansion includes additions to the north and south sides of the existing building that will eliminate the need for portable classrooms and result in 14 new general classrooms, a new science lab and two career-technical education spaces.

The church and school district had been trading legal filings for the better part of two months over the district’s usage of eminent domain.