Wheeler

Vic Wheeler, president of the McAlester Public Schools Board of Education, signs paperwork after the board voted to approve resolutions calling for two bond special elections.

Superintendent Randy Hughes wants more technology and buses for McAlester Public Schools students — and he hopes taxpayers agree to help.

The McAlester Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved resolutions during Monday night’s regular meeting calling for two school bond issues totaling more than $2.5 million, which school officials said would mean an 8% increase for taxpayers.

Hughes said he did the math on how much more he would owe in taxes.

“For me, it would be $8 a month or $96 a year,” Hughes said.

“That’s not too much to prepare our kids and that’s a direction we’ve got to go,” he added.

The documents call for a special election on Sept. 10, 2019, for voters to consider two propositions — one totaling $1,485,000 for technology and other improvements, another for $1,200,000 for buses.

MPS Board President Vic Wheeler said he believes the bond issues could help.

“We’re in a position where, clearly, we have needs,” Wheeler said. “It’s always been a challenge getting bonds passed here, but I think people can see the steps we’ve taken in the last three years to firm up the fiscal footing of the district. With the technology and transportation needs, I think this is what a bond is for.”

Proposition No. 1 states MPS shall incur an indebtedness by issuing bonds in the sum of $1,485,000 for “constructing, equipping, repairing and remodeling school buildings, acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment and acquiring and improving school sites."

Hughes said it would help MPS continue keeping up with tech advances in the classroom.

“We want each student to have their own unit, their own Chromebook,” Hughes said. “The old days of using the chalkboard, that’s not part of it, that’s not here anymore. Even though that’s how I learned, that’s not how these kids learn anymore.”

The proposition would allow the district to “levy and collect an annual tax, in addition to all other taxes, upon all the taxable property in such district sufficient to pay the interest on such bonds to bear interest as it falls due and also to constitute a sinking funds for the payment of the principal thereof when due, said bonds to bear interest not to exceed the rate of 10% per annum payable semi-annually and to become due serially within five years from their date.

Proposition No. 1 calls for $910,000 of the bond to go toward acquiring and installing technology across the district, and $575,000 to go toward improvements for STEM classrooms at McAlester High School, Puterbaugh Middle School and Parker Intermediate School.

Hughes played a video for those attending the meeting showing recent technological advances.

“This is the point where technology is moving so fast that we need to prepare our kids for the future,” Hughes said.

“We’re preparing kids for a job that right now, they’re not even created yet,” Hughes said.

Proposition No. 2 states MPS shall incur indebtedness by issuing bonds in the sum of $1,200,000 for purchasing transportation equipment.

The proposition calls for the entire $1,200,000 to go toward “vehicles for pupil transportation” — which Hughes said would be for more school buses.

Hughes said the plan calls for MPS to purchase two activity buses, four route buses, and one mini-bus in the fist year if the bond passes, before purchasing a new bus per year through the next five years.

Prior to approving the propositions, board members voted to approve hiring Stephen H. McDonald & Associates, Inc. as a financial consultant.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com