District forges ahead with improvements at Claggett Creek Middle School

Claggett Creek Middle School

Dozens of construction projects will be taking place across Salem-Keizer this summer, including a $3.7 million project at Claggett Creek Middle School.

Thanks to the $677 million Salem-Keizer bond project, which was passed by voters just over two years ago, Claggett Creek will undergo upgrades that include repurposing two general classrooms into a science lab, cafeteria expansion, roofing replacement, plus library and media improvements.

Construction was supposed to get started in mid-June, but with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping kids out of in-person classes, the project began in late-May.

“The most exciting part is the state-of-the-art science teaching center going in. There has been a lot of work that has gone into that aspect of the project with our science teachers and bond planning team,” said Claggett Creek Principal Aaron Persons. 

Persons says that the district has been pushing for more access to science education across all grade levels and that his students are excited for the school makeover.

“It sparks interest in kids. These kids will be going to McNary and McNary has programs that will meet any of the science needs that are kids have, so we try to light the fire in them,” Persons said.

The science center will give Claggett Creek the opportunity to expand their career exploration lab — which just concluded its first year and offered instruction on electrical wiring, small engine maintenance, plumbing, 3-D printing, app creation and laser technology. 

Blood draw simulations, stress testing and manufacturing, forensic science will be added to the unit for the 2020-21 school year.

“There is just a very wide variety of options,” Persons said.

The cafeteria expansion, which will increase lunch seating by more than 30 percent, is a much-needed upgrade according to Persons.

“Our cafeteria wasn’t keeping up with our growing enrollment. We had over 1,000 kids last year,” Persons said. “Our cafeteria has been very crowded. During lunchtime, every seat was full, so kids would kind of have to scope out their seat when they would walk in. It will now be more opened up and it will be a more appropriate and comfortable environment.”

Although the project is ahead of its timetable, the bond team does not plan on advancing construction, which is scheduled to be completed at the start of September before kids begin the school year.

“That allows us some flexibility in the schedule. If unforeseen things come up, we will be able to adjust,” said Karma Krause, the Capital Projects Public Engagement Specialist for the district.