EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of three stories exploring various aspects of the $80 million bond proposal by Edmond Public Schools, to be considered by voters on Feb. 12.
BY PATTY MILLER
THE EDMOND SUN
Edmond voters will consider the Edmond school district’s largest bond issue ever proposed — $80 million on Feb. 12.
The bond proposal would include land for a fourth Edmond high school, and money to build both a new middle school and new elementary school. The 2013 Bond Election will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at regular voting precincts.
By expanding the facilities the district is hoping to keep ahead of the growing student population.
Edmond Board of Education members are asking voters to approve $3.2 million to buy a minimum of 80 acres for a new high school complex, $27 million for a new middle school and $16.5 million for a new elementary school.
Although an exact location is still being negotiated, school board President Jamie Underwood said the board is looking east of Interstate 35 for land.
“School officials are looking ahead to breaking ground for an additional high school in the next five to six years,” said Bret Towne, associate superintendent of general administration.
The new middle school will be on North Pennsylvania, just south of Edmond’s 16th elementary school, Frontier Elementary, now under construction. The new elementary school, the district’s 17th elementary, will be on Sorghum Mill Road.
With heavy growth in the northwest part of Edmond has determined the site of the new high school, but the district has seen growth throughout its boundaries.
On Oct. 1, the Edmond Public School District had a student population of 22,501, which is an addition of 505 students above the 2011 October student count.
The Long Range Student Enrollment Projections and Capacity Study was prepared for EPS by Facility Program Management Inc. in association with McKibben Demographics Inc. They projected the total enrollment for 2012-13 would be 21,618.
“We currently have roughly 880 more students than the total projected,” said Susan Parks-Schlepp, district director of public information/community involvement.
For the year 2017-18 the study projected the district would have 22,207 students. This number has already been passed.
“Numerical growth over the last five years has exceeded 500 students per year, with an overall increase of about 2,600 students,” said Superintendent David Goin. “There is a need for an additional elementary school to accommodate growth in the north and northeast areas of the school district and for an additional middle school to accommodate growth along the western and north central areas of the school district.”
The last elementary school built was Centennial Elementary in 2007 on North Coltrane, according to information released by the district.
Underwood said she wants voters to understand the bond issue will not raise property taxes because the last bond election was November 2011.
“We just want to make sure people understand that. When you look at the amount it looks like a lot,” she said, “but since we didn’t have a bond in 2012, passing this bond will not increase property taxes.”
Information released by the school district states over the past 13 years, the EPS sinking fund rates have varied less than 1.2 mils. Due to projected growth in property valuations, the retirement of other bonds outstanding and a funding spread over four disbursements, it is anticipated that passage of this bond issue will maintain a stable Sinking Fund rate for Edmond Public Schools.
Other factors influence overall property taxes, including fluctuations in assessed values of properties and in other governmental agencies’ millage rates.
Underwood added pending passage of the February bond issue, plans are to schedule the next election no sooner than August 2014.
Oklahoma law requires 60 percent approval for school bonds (simple majority required for all other governmental entities). Edmond voters have approved 54 consecutive bond issues over a period of more than half a century (beginning with passage of a 1959 bond issue).
All registered voters who live within Edmond Public School District boundaries qualify to vote. This includes residents who live outside the city limits of Edmond proper, i.e., in Oklahoma City or unincorporated areas.