Future of West Salem Rests on Voters

On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, West Salem School District will hold a referendum asking for $5.3 million dollars. The district is hoping it passes, as the last time they tried it failed by only 33 votes.

The request for the April referendum was approved by the school board on January 8, 2019. There are four main goals of the referendum: maintaining a quality educational experience, limiting the referendums to a 3 year term, sharing how funds will be used, and keeping taxes lower than most area districts.

“Our school system tends to be the number one attractor or draw to people moving here,” West Salem Superintendent Troy Gunderson said. “It’s the largest asset. We’re the largest employer in the school district and if you try to chip away at that, then the value of your whole place goes backwards. If it fails next week, in a year from now I’m going to be sitting in the same seat and the same office running an election again in April until we get somewhere.”

“If the referendum doesn’t get passed, we will have to trim programs such as sports and maybe even some music and art classes,” said Gunderson. Instead of having roughly 25 students in major classes like math, science, social studies, and English there will be have closer to 30-35 students.

If the referendum doesn’t pass, Gunderson predicts that fewer people will be coming to school here. They’ll be going elsewhere because we won’t have the programs we had a few years ago. “It’s an investment for the future and it’s an investment for all of us,” said Gunderson. “You should vote yes to keep our programs going!”