The Edmond Sun

February 1, 2013

Vote yes for $80M bond

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The Edmond Public Schools is asking for voters within its district boundaries to head to the polls Feb. 12 to consider an $80 million bond proposal. Ballots will feature two propositions — $78.21 million on Proposition No. 1 for new schools, remodeling, renovations, security upgrades, land purchases and more while Proposition No. 2 is $1.79 million for transportation needs. State law requires transportation issues to be separated from the rest of the projects, thus requiring a second checkmark on ballots.

The school administration has done an admirable job this year in communicating what the district’s needs are and how the selected projects on the bond issue will meet those upcoming needs.

Population growth still dominates most of the moves being made by the school district. Even with the opening of Frontier Elementary for the 2013-14 academic year, school officials still see additional need for classrooms at several existing elementary schools as well as a new middle school. The district’s newest elementary, Centennial, was opened in 2007 and already is bulging with more than 1,000 students. Other elementary schools are nearing or surpassing the 1,000 student population mark as well.

The most recent middle school built in Edmond was Cheyenne Middle School in 2000. The proposed middle school on this bond issue will be built across the street from Frontier Elementary in northwest Edmond at a cost of $27 million.

Superintendent David Goin reports that schools statewide saw an increase of 22,000 students in the past few years. Ten percent of that growth came to Edmond Public Schools. With 50 percent of the district’s land area still yet to be built out, there’s plenty of room for more families to move in and be served by Edmond schools.

One of the important things to note with this bond proposal is that each of the three high schools will receive upgrades and renovations bringing them to a higher standard before the district opens a fourth high school. Superintendent David Goin said he believes a fourth high school will be needed within the next five to 10 years. The upgrades planned for Memorial, North and Santa Fe high schools will address things like new science classrooms, renovated hallways, lockers, bathrooms, flooring and gym seating. Much of these items at North and Memorial are from the 1970s and 1980s, officials said, and it’s just time to upgrade them. The upgrades are projected to cost $2.5 million for Memorial, $2.5 million for North and $2.6 million for Santa Fe.

Another key issue when considering the bond proposal is that the district’s millage will not increase, thus keeping property taxes stable. The district designs bond issues to pay off before new ones begin, thus keeping millage very close to the same as last year’s level. And because the school district is conservative in its approach to spending, they’re not maxing out the district’s bonding capacity. If something major came up, they potentially could come to voters and address it without a huge impact to taxes.

Finally, we believe the district has demonstrated excellent stewardship both in recent construction projects and in attaining a level of academic achievement that is the envy of the region.

When evaluating the district’s efforts to keep classroom sizes small and children out of portable buildings, it’s clear that there are needs within the district that must be met. We believe that 60 percent or more of voters turning out Feb. 12 will agree that the district administration is trustworthy, competent and doing what is best for students. We encourage voters to join us in endorsing this $80 million bond proposal by voting yes.