It has been my honor to be the Superintendent of McAlester Public Schools for the past three years. I look at my predecessors like, Dr. Lucy Smith and Mr. Jim Northcutt with an awe of respect for the jobs that they did. My hope when I came aboard was to make sure that our District was financially stable and that we provide the best education possible for our kids.
I believe we are in a good position financially. We have been frugal while looking for avenues to move forward into the future. We are in the process of constructing four additional class/safe rooms at Puterbaugh Middle School, thanks to the Puterbaugh Foundation. The total cost of the project will be around $1.5 million. Plans are being made using the current 1/8 of a cent City sales tax to construct 14 classrooms and safe rooms at Will Rogers Elementary. We are estimating the cost to be in the area of $4 million. We have made some additions and renovations in the district thanks to the over collection of the previous City sales tax. I hope that you can see that we have used the resources available to us to do what we can.
We are at a point in which we need your help. We truly wish that the State would fund us with the available funds to do major projects and construction, but they don’t. So, now we have to turn to the citizens of McAlester. Our current budget is $22,933,000 with $20,861,000 of that being dedicated to salaries. That leaves us with $2,184,000 to fund all non-salaried expenditures. $800,000 of that money goes toward utilities, plus we have recurring cost, that does not leave us any choice but to go to the public for this major project.
Proposition #1 is for Technology. We want to place a state of the art, fully equipped STEM room at three of our campuses. This will allow our kids the ability to take the next step at Parker Intermediate Center and Puterbaugh Middle School to prepare them for coding, robotics and aeronautics offered at McAlester High School. This bond will also allow us to be one to one for students in 7th through 12th grade. Teachers at the elementary schools would also have the necessary technology available for a classroom set of devices. This is NOT fluff. This proposition will help prepare our students for the job market when they finish high school.
Proposition #2 is for Transportation. Last year we had six buses down at one time, including two buses being broken down while they were on an activity with our students. Our plan is to purchase four route buses, two activity buses and one 14-passenger bus. This proposition would also give us the funds to purchase a bus every year for the next 7 years, so we will not be in this situation again.
Of course the bond is going to cost. Our current millage rate it 6.35 mills, which is next to last place on the 5A schools across the state. To get the funds needed for these projects the millage would be raised to 12.81 mills. This is an 8% increase which means it would raise your current ad valorem taxes $8.00 for each $100.00. If you paid $1,000 dollars a year for your ad valorem taxes, it would be raised $96.00 a year. Even though raising our mileage to 12.81 would only raise us up ahead of one other school district in the millage comparison of communities across the state, it would be a huge step in the right direction for our district. It is a great time to be a Buffalo. Have a Buffalo Day.
Please go to our new website to see all of our bond information. www.mcalester.k12.ok.us. Go to the school board tab, click on the bond transparency section.