Gubser upgrade starts

From left: Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark. Gubser teacher Carly Justino, Gubser students Colin Williams and Marin Williams, and superintendent Christy Perry pose with their shovels after breaking ground at Gubser Elementary. (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings)

The expansion at Gubser Elementary kicked off on the morning of Friday, March 22 with an official groundbreaking ceremony to signal the start of construction.

Gubser is one of five Salem-Keizer schools beginning construction under the 2018 bond program.

The $619.7 million bond is the largest ever in the state of Oregon — the expansion at Gubser will cost around $5.5 million.

School board members, local officials, school staff and community supporters gathered under the outdoor covered area at the Gubser to celebrate the project.

“This ground breaking today really represents the start of important improvements, not just here at Gubser, but throughout our whole school district,” said Chuck Lee, who is the Board Director for Zone 6 on the Salem-Keizer Public School Board of Education. “Not only is this so significant for our students, but it changes the economic landscape of Keizer.”

Gubser was built in 1976 without a cafeteria or a full-sized kitchen. Originally designed for 467 students, the school is currently serving 592 students — with stable enrollment projected through 2025.

With three new classrooms coming to Gubser, the school will be able to do away with their portable classrooms.

“I am excited for having classrooms be more a part of the school rather than having kids in the portables. We will have a little space to grow and not have kids going back and forth through the rain, which will be nice,” said Gubser principal Dave Bertholf.

“There are great things in store for our school.”

Along with the new classrooms, Gubser will be getting a new cafeteria and kitchen, and will be relocating their covered play area.

The bond also covers several building improvement projects that include HVAC upgrades, a replacement of partition walls and gymnasium upgrades.

Expanded wireless capacity and intercom system upgrades will improve technology and communications at the school.

“We couldn’t be more excited for the improvements planned for our schools,” said Superintendent Christy Perry.

Corp Inc. Construction, which is based in Salem, will be taking on the project. Based on preliminary work, the company is shooting for substantial completion by Aug. 16, 2019 and final completion on Aug. 30 — students come back to school on Sept. 4.

With construction going on for the remainder of the school year, operations at Gubser will be a little different over the next few months. However, the district believes that they will be able to handle the disruption without much stress.

“We are working with contractors to minimize disruption. When construction begins, there will be some noise and the North covered play area won’t be available, but the impact to the instructional day should be minimal,” said Karma Krause, who is a capital projects public engagement specialist with the school district.

Bertholf added: “One thing that is very evident about this school is the flexibility of staff, students and parents. With such a supportive group of team players, the logistics changes and dealing with construction noise and dust will be met with the same “can do” attitude I have come to appreciate.”