The Edmond Sun

July 30, 2009

Deer Creek eyes $142M bond vote

Patty Miller

Members of the Deer Creek Board of Education unanimously approved this week a resolution calling for a $142.1 million bond election.

Deer Creek voters will be asked to approve the Oct. 13 bond initiative to provide funding necessary to continue to add facilities and programs for the growing student population in the district.

In addition, the board approved a resolution stating its intent to maintain the current bond millage resulting in no tax increase for Deer Creek patrons.

Board member Jim Benson said the bonds will be sold in a series stretching across six to eight years, keeping tax levels steady with no increase.

“As a district, we do everything we can to provide for the needs of our students while keeping tax levels steady to minimize the impact on the district’s taxpayers,” Benson said.

The bond issue will be in five phases.

Following the vote Superintendent Rebecca Wilkinson thanked the Board of Education and the school patrons involved for a job well done.

“Over the past 12 months, four long-range planning committees involving more than 50 school patrons developed detailed 10-year plans designed to accommodate the anticipated growth in the district,” Wilkinson said.

“Utilizing the recommendations of these long-range planning committees, as well as the recommendations of the district’s architect and financial consulting firm, the Board of Education developed a plan that I believe will provide our students with the facilities and resources to ensure that, even as our enrollment increases, our academic, athletic, fine arts and other programs remain among the very best in the state.”

Construction Projects

The bond initiative includes 12 construction projects, including the construction of a second middle school on Sorghum Mill Road designed to accommodate 800 students and a fifth elementary school designed for 600 students.

The new middle school will contain 30 regular classrooms, three computer labs, two art rooms, a band/choir area, additional rooms for foreign languages and other electives and a full complement of athletic facilities.

The fifth elementary school will be about 70,000 square feet, somewhat larger than the four existing elementary schools.

“We anticipate significant growth in the southern portion of the district and believe that the construction of a larger elementary school in this area will allow us to accommodate this growth as efficiently and inexpensively as possible,” said Jan Larsen, board president. Larsen secured a donation of land for the fifth elementary school.

Construction projects at the high school campus include a 7,125-square-foot expansion and renovation of the media and technology center, renovation of Alumni Hall to house several fine arts programs, and construction of a new performing arts and athletic center with gymnasium seating for 2,500, auditorium seating for 1,500, common area seating for 500 and separate band, choir, drama and orchestra facilities.

“Our current gymnasium and auditorium opened in 1986 and 1993, respectively,” said board member David Miller.

Miller said the facilities have served up to now, but as the district approaches Class 6A the board believes it is important to make available to the students facilities that are comparable to those of other 6A schools in the state.

“Also, this new facility would allow us to start an orchestra program and expand our band, choir and drama programs, all of which our parents have indicated should be priorities for our district,” Miller said.

Athletic-related construction projects include installation of artificial turf at the high school stadium (which can then be used for football, soccer, band practice and other activities), replacement of the running track, expansion of the stadium seating to add more than 2,500 seats, renovation of the original Deer Creek gymnasium, and construction of three new softball fields, a locker room/weight room addition at the existing middle school and a 40,000-square-foot multi-sport complex.

The bond package also contemplates the construction of a new facility to house the maintenance, transportation, custodial and grounds departments. This new facility will not be on the high school campus, thus freeing up land for academics and extracurricular activities.

The final construction project involves a 6,000-square-foot addition to the district’s administration building. This addition will provide office space for several administrative programs that are currently scattered throughout the main campus at 206th Street and MacArthur.

The bond package also would provide $10 million for technology throughout the district.

“With help from the Deer Creek Schools Foundation, we have spent over $6 million during the past few years to upgrade the technology available to our students,” said Danny Barnes, board member. “We now have SmartBoards in virtually every classroom and new computer labs at each school; however, we know that we need to do more to prepare our kids for college and, eventually, the workforce.”

The bond initiative also would provide $5 million for curriculum throughout the district, $5 million for facilities maintenance and improvement, $3 million for transportation, $1.5 million for general athletics support, $1 million to acquire land for future schools or other facilities and $300,000 for expansion/replacement of playground equipment at the elementary schools.

Stacy Curttright and Jacob Mays, co-chairs of Deer Creek Now, both expressed their strong personal support for the bond package.

“I am excited about this bond package,” Curttright said. “It will provide $10 million for technology to provide students with the resources to prepare them for the technology expectations of the workforce.”

Mays added that although every child in the district will benefit from the projects included in this bond package; children currently attending or getting ready to attend elementary school will be the biggest beneficiaries.

MORE INFORMATION regarding the bond initiative may be obtained from the district’s Web site deercreekschools.org.