The Edmond Sun

March 18, 2013

Deer Creek calls for May 14 bond election

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The Deer Creek Independent School District has called a special bond election for May 14, to issue bonds in the sum of $5 million to provide funds for completing projects started with the October 2009 passage of Bond Package 39 for $142.1 million.

The $142 million will be used in addition to the $10.5 million from a 2006 package that already has gone toward completing the district’s new middle school, high school stadium, transportation facility, multi-sport complex and media center among other expansions and purchases.

The $5 million will be used for the purpose of constructing, equipping, repairing and remodeling school buildings, acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment and acquiring and improving school sites.

Board President David Miller said the projects originally were intended to be completed during an 10-year period. The board voted to speed up the completion time in reaction to rising construction costs and district growth.

The accelerated plan, coupled with some unforeseen construction costs, resulted in the district needing to increase its budget 3.2 percent, Miller said.

“Actually, the $5 million is going to allow us to finish up the projects. When we did the entire project it was going to be an 10-year deal, but since that time there have been numerous changes,” Miller said.

There were a few cost overruns as well as a few additions, he added.

“Some of the additions in cost increases can be attributed to the Operation Center costing us a couple of million extra dollars because of how we expanded and increased the facility’s capacity of what it can do,” Miller said. “Although we saved money on construction costs, the compression of 10 years to three for completion required the addition of construction people.”

The two largest costs involved elementary No. 5 when the district ran into an unforeseen city code problem on the north side of the site at a cost of $250,000. Also, the cost of a safe room housing the students and faculty was added to elementary No. 5.

Miller said when he came on the board five years ago the district was a little behind in construction compared with the growth that was happening in the district.

“I would have done it again,” Miller said. “We grew and we grew fast. We had to get the facilities up to speed, and we have to keep abreast of changes in technology and curriculum.”

The majority of the $5 million will go toward purchasing equipment and furnishings for the new buildings that are still under construction, said Superintendent Ranet Tippins, “and will not raise the voters’ taxes.”

“Those buildings include Spring Creek Elementary, or elementary No. 5, the Freshman Academy including a new cafeteria, high school addition including a new cafeteria, and the Performing Arts and Athletic Center,” Tippins said.

Tippens said building costs normally go up an average of 6 percent per year but went up 9 percent last year.

“Had they not gone ahead and constructed the buildings on a three-year schedule, I am concerned they may not have been able to finish construction of all the buildings on the bond issue.”

“The School Board has done a tremendous job completing the construction so far,” Tippins said. “I believe we are very well prepared for the next several years.”

Purchasing buses or providing for the rapid changes in technology may have to be looked at later on down the road, Tippins added.

“It is exciting that the projects will be open for the students next year,” Tippins said. “I have to compliment the board for their hard work as we will be able to move into the buildings earlier than first expected and use them well.”

Jordan Smith with Stephen L. Smith Corp. (the financial group that will be selling the bonds) said, “This is just a one-time, two-year bond, very short-term, and it will be able to rebalance the bond schedule without changing ad valorem taxes. If the bond passes in May, the most important thing is keeping consistent tax rates for the patrons.”

Verbiage for the bond says it is not to exceed 10 years, but Smith said plans are to pay it off in two years. | 341-2121