McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK


January 6, 2011

Letter to editor: So who pays for school bond?

McALESTER — Editor: Who pays, who doesn’t pay for the $35 million McAlester school bond? If you live north of Douglas, you pay. If you live west of Hardy Springs, you pay. If you live in north McAlester or North Town, you pay. If you live in Kincaid Hills, you don’t pay. If you live in Krebs, south of Douglas, Frink, east side of Hardy Springs, you don’t have to pay for the $35 million school bond program.

If the bond passes and you are in an area to pay, your ad valorem or real estate taxes will increase a whopping 30 percent and this bond election is costing several thousand dollars plus advertising costs whether it passes or not.

There are approximately 3,000 enrolled in the McAlester district with 600 or 1/5 enrollment living in the don’t pay area. One-fifth of the $35 million bond is $7 million. What happened to the horse racing lottery, and Indian gaming money? No one knows why we aren’t getting our lottery. I know the Choctaw tribe gave McAlester school district $23,600 in 2006-2007 budget but gave only $8,607 for the 2010-2011 budget.

The second part of the bond asks for eight new school buses. Four of the buses will cost $150,000 each with 46 passenger seats. Two of the buses will cost $87,000 each with 77 passenger seats. Two buses will cost $70,000 each with wheelchair tie-downs. There are also plans to buy two used buses for $40,000 each. The grand total is $994,000 or 1 million dollars.  We currently own 22 buses. Do we need four $150,000 buses?

With the possible bankruptcy of several states, ongoing McAlester city water towers maintenance, needed street repairs and canal and flood areas, gasoline costs rising, increases in heating costs, insurance costs for health increasing and now an increase in property taxes by 30 percent, many senior citizens and middle class homeowners cannot afford these school bonds. Not all of us have a salary of $111,719.23 yearly as Superintendent Condict does. Who is going to help our poor seniors? With the bond program going on for 15 years, seniors who are now 83 would be 98 by the time we finished paying the bond. Yes, 30 percent increase in property taxes for at least 15 years.

I agree our schools need repairs. How could Emerson’s roof get in such poor shape? The Lucy Smith Activity (center) cost $7 million instead of necessary repairs. Will Rogers, Parker and Washington got new roofs in 2002 and 2004.

Vote no January 11 on McAlester school. Don’t sit at home and do nothing, get your friends, neighbors and go vote no. Tell Superintendent Condict no thank you.

Editor’s note: McAlester Public Schools Business Manager and Treasurer Nancy Hughes has confirmed the budget figures and the enrollment and mapping data cited in this letter.

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