McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Schools

April 1, 2014

School bond fails for 4th time

McALESTER — A McAlester school bond election has failed for a fourth time, with only 43.94 percent of school district voters casting ballots in favor of the measure Tuesday night.

The $28,980,000 school bond issue would have funded construction of a new building on V. Hubert Smith Drive to house early childhood and first-grade students for the school district, with another $1 million for technology upgrades district-wide, according to McAlester Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marsha Gore.

The measure fell 732-934, well short of capturing the needed 60 percent of the total votes cast.

“Well, of course we’re disappointed,” Gore said Tuesday night when contacted by phone. “I’m disappointed for the people who worked so hard for it.”

Opponents had cited the impact the bond issue would have had on property taxes within the school district. Figures from MPS said the measure would have increased ad valorem property taxes by 26.9 percent for a period of 15 years, or an additional $27 for every $100 now assessed.

“I’m 100 percent against it,” Dave Cupp, a retired clothing salesman and night club owner who lives in McAlester, had said prior to the election. “People can’t afford another tax.

“Gas is $3.49 a gallon. Bacon is $5 a pound and milk is $5 a gallon. Everything is going up.”

It was the fourth time since 2008 the school district failed to win approval from voters for a bond issue funded by property tax dollars. In 2008, voters turned down a request for a $1.3 million bond issue. Twice in 2011, school bond measures were voted down: $34.8 million had been requested in a January election that year, and $11.8 million was rejected by voters in October.

What’s next for the school district?

“What we’ll do is reconvene our committee in a couple of weeks, look at what worked and what didn’t work,” Gore said, referring to a committee that had developed plans for the most recent bond issue. “We’ll regroup and ask the community again which direction they want to go in.”

Gore also expressed disappointment at the low voter turnout. The total 1,666 votes cast in the school bond election Tuesday was about 40 percent less than the 2,406 who voted in the 2011 bond election.

“People don’t get out and vote,” she said. “The wonderful thing about our country is people aren’t forced to vote.”

Contact Kandra Wells at kwells@mcalesternews.com.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

 

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