McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

January 30, 2014

Voters to decide fate of school bond issue

Ada — Patrons of Ada City Schools will decide this spring whether the district may issue bonds to finance a series of capital improvements, including safe rooms at five schools.

Earlier this week, the Ada school board voted unanimously to put the $16.70 million bond issue on the April 1 ballot. The board also tapped the Norman-based firm Stephen H. McDonald and Associates to serve as financial consultants for the election.

If voters approve the proposal, the district would issue $16.70 million in bonds to finance school improvements schools throughout the district. The funds would provide:

• More than $5.2 million to finance construction of safe rooms, which would also serve as science/technology classrooms or band/music rooms at five school sites. The money would also fund construction of secure school entrances at those sites.

The classroom additions would meet Federal Emergency Management Agency standards for safe rooms, and they would be large enough to accommodate all students and staffers in case of severe weather, Superintendent Pat Harrison said Wednesday.

“This will give us safe rooms and additional science/technology and music rooms, plus secure entrances, at all school sites,” he said.

He added that the Early Childhood Center is already equipped with safe rooms.

• Approximately $3.9 million to replace the roof at seven sites.

• Approximately $1.8 million for renovations at each school.

• More than $760,000 to renovate athletic facilities at seven sites.

• Approximately $500,000 for upgrading the district’s transportation fleet.

• The remaining $190,000 for technology upgrades at each site.

If the measure passes, district patrons would pay an additional 78 cents per month for every $100 of property taxes they paid in 2013-14, Harrison said. The total annual increase would equal $9.36 for every $100 in taxes.

The district would have 12 years to pay off the bonds.

Harrison said the district used to have a separate fund for building repairs, but a reduction in state aid to schools over the past six years has forced officials to supplement the general fund with building fund dollars. As a result, the building fund has been depleted and does not have enough money to pay for roof repairs.

“I know tax increases aren’t fun for any of us,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the current economic environment for us, a bond election like this is the only means by which we can make the necessary improvements and additions to provide a quality and safe learning environment for our students and staff.”

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