So far in 2019, five schools in the Salem-Keizer School District, including Gubser Elementary and McNary High, have received seismic improvements thanks to the bond measure that was passed in May of 2018 — which has grown from $619.7 million, which was the original base amount, to $667.7 million, without adding costs to taxpayers.

Next summer, Whiteaker Middle School will be the next school in line to receive benefits from the bond. 

Whiteaker will receive a gym floor replacement and roofing improvements, as well as improvements to the front office space to increase visibility and control of the front entry.

The front entry will include a secured vestibule, which means that when visitors are buzzed in through the main door, they will enter a secured space that leads them directly to the school office to check in. After being approved by office staff, a visitor will be buzzed through a second set of doors into the school. 

The purpose of the new design is to provide line of sight visibility of visitors and increased control of the front entry. The building will also have increased badge access card readers and other security upgrades around the school.

“The safety and security improvements at Whiteaker, including the secured front entry and electronic badge access system upgrade, give office staff better ability to control who enters and exits the building,” said Karma Krause, the Capital Projects Public Engagement Specialist for the district. “This creates a safer physical and psychological environment in the school, which keeps the focus on learning.”

Additionally, Whiteaker will also have one general education classroom turned into a science lab. 

“I’m excited to have a classroom converted into a fully functioning science lab. As our enrollment increases, this addition will provide for future science classroom needs,” Whiteaker principal Julia DeWitt said. “Moreover, it supports our ongoing commitment to increasing STEM education through elective offerings, an interdisciplinary/applied approach to learning science, technology, engineering and math.”

Multiple Whiteaker staff members met with members of the district’s construction services staff at the end of last school year to go over the needs of the school and helped make plans for the design — which will be drawn up by BBT Architects.

Construction is scheduled to begin in June and is expected to be completed before the 2020-21 school year. Just over $2.1 million will be invested into this project. 

“We’re very grateful to the voters of Keizer and Salem for next year’s upgrades,” DeWitt said.