EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of three stories exploring various aspects of the $80 million bond proposal by Edmond Public Schools, to be considered by voters on Feb. 12. The first story examined proposed new construction within the school district. That story may be found at www.edmondsun.com.
Edmond residents who go to the polls Feb. 12 to vote on the Edmond Public School District’s $80 million bond issue proposal will be voting on updating school security measures already in place and adding new ones.
Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at regular voting precincts. Edmond residents have approved the last 54 bond issue packages, making this the 55th bond request since 1959. If this bond package is approved, the district will not ask for another bond issue until after August 2014, said David Goin, superintendent.
Goin told The Edmond Sun the district has always been concerned with the welfare of its students, and that after the December school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., parents and school officials are even more aware of the need for improved security measures in schools.
The Feb. 12 bond issue proposes $400,000 in security features and enhancements to six schools.
In past years the district has fenced high school parking lots with a guard on duty and placed a LobbyGuard visitor management system and visitor tracking software in the front offices of all of the district schools for visitors to check in as they enter the building and check out as they leave.
“The LobbyGuards do background checks on the visitors, making sure they are not a security risk,” said Bret Towne, associate superintendent of general administration.
School security a continuing concern
As well as LobbyGuards, all schools have camera systems internally and externally, and the district is continuing to upgrade and add cameras where needed.
“The bond issue will ensure the ability to continue upgrading and adding cameras on our high school campuses and changing to digital rather than analog for hi-resolution and clearer images,” Towne said.
Fencing will be added at West Field, Angie Debo and Centennial elementary schools as the district continues to control access to elementary playgrounds, Towne added.
The approximate projected cost of this project will be about $100,000 for all three sites combined, Towne said.
“At this time all schools have a LobbyGuard,” Towne said, “and all schools with the exception of Ida Freeman and Russell Dougherty elementary schools, Sequoyah Middle School and Memorial High School have secured entrances.
“Angie Debo and Washington Irving elementary schools will have secured entrances installed as part of the construction at the schools.”
Towne added the district is working on designs for the four elementary schools that do not have secured entrances and those will be paid for using leftover bond monies from the 2011 bond issue.
The cost for the school entrances is considered school renovation and will be listed in the construction costs and will be coming from the 2011 bond money.
The secured entrances’ cost has been included in new construction and renovation costs.
The district’s security additions and changes were planned prior to Sandy Hook and are still needed so we are continuing working to put those in place, Towne said.
Over the next two years $400,000 is being allocated for security improvements, Towne said.
Transportation needed for growing student population
Voters will be asked to mark their choice on two propositions on the ballot. Proposition No. 1 is for $78.21 million and includes new construction, roof replacements, technology upgrades, school security updates, school equipment and school renovation projects. It also includes the purchase of land for a fourth Edmond high school to be built at a later date, and money to build both a middle school and elementary school to address the ever-growing student population.
Proposition No. 2 will include the addition of four large buses (77-passenger) and two medium buses (47-passenger), two special education buses and two activity buses (each holding 40 students), Towne said.
“A 77-passenger bus costs around $85,000 while a special education bus costs around $55,000 to $65,000,” Towne said.
“These buses we are adding are for the most part for growth (across the district),” Towne said.
He added very few buses will be traded in this year due to student growth in the district.
“Normally we would trade in buses, but this year we will be keeping them. Adding one new elementary will require about four more bus routes and with an additional elementary and middle school, we are looking at needing about a dozen more buses,” Towne said.
The district likes to trade buses in every 12 years, and at this time the average age of the bus fleet is seven years.
“Thirteen years ago the average age of a bus was 16.8 years,” Towne said. “We have done a good job with our replacement program, but we are trying to keep up with growth now.”
If the bond issue passes, one or two Suburbans will be purchased to be used for school activity trips where sending a bus is not as cost efficient, Towne said.
“The cost of a Suburban is $28,000 to $30,000 off the State of Oklahoma purchasing contract,” he said.
All activities use them including transportation for academic meets, band and orchestra tryouts and tennis and golf and other occasions where a group of eight or less will be traveling. Teachers also use them to go to conferences.
“It makes sense to send five members and a coach in a Suburban because of the versatility and cost savings,” Towne said, adding the district has around 16 Suburbans at this time.
Towne said the district picks up more than 10,000 students a day distributing them to their schools.
“Our bus drivers drive nearly 2 million miles a year in 141 buses and 12 Suburbans,” Towne said.