The Woodward News

January 16, 2014

Voters show strong support for Fort Supply schools

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Fort Supply Superintendent Pat Howell couldn't be happier.

The veteran educator and administrator fairly glided around the Fort Supply campus Wednesday, one day after a $2.1 million bond issues passed in a landslide vote, 113-7.

"Of course, we are very happy and very thankful to the voters," Howell said. "This community has always served their school like this."

On Wednesday, Howell guided the Woodward News about the campus and described how the bond money will be used and where the projected improvements will take place.

But the truth is, Howell isn't a man to wait  for bond elections to make improvements.

Pretty much since he got to Fort Supply about 8 years ago, he has endeavored with the help of many local organizations to build, rebuild and improve on what was already there.

Howell believes the people of the community deserve the credit for supporting their own school in a manner that clearly states they are invested.

Indeed, were it not for that private and corporate support, the school wouldn't have had what it does now, he said.

With the help of one past bond issue, insurance money after the snow storm in 2009 and numerous local organizations to include the Moose Lodge, private donors and wind farm companies, the school has been able to not just survive but grow its programs.

In the last 8 years, the school has been able to purchase new roofs, build an entirely new gym, purchase new air conditioning, bring bathrooms nearer to ADA standards and fix each classroom with computer friendly smart boards and build a new agriculture barn, Howell said.

Now, with the bond money, he hopes to be able to pull all of those elements together into one seamless and very secure campus.

Howell said the largest portion of the $2.1 million will be spent on the construction of a new addition that will serve as two classrooms.

These classrooms will enable Howell to bring in the Pre-K and kindergarten classes from the portable buildings that now serve as their campus.

The addition will be constructed in what is now the courtyard and will be built to FEMA standards for tornado safety, Howell said. The large addition will be built with what is called an "operable wall" which will allow the two classrooms to be turned into one large area when needed during storms, he said.

"You can see the size of this addition is more than enough room for our entire student body and teachers to get into in case of a tornado," he said.

A new north entrance with key pad capability and a secure viewing ability for his staff will allow the school to be totally secure.

At present, the campus, while it is secured as well as it can be, still requires many different entrances because it is not all connected. That bothers Howell.

To that end, Howell described how already existing portions of the building, now serving in other capacities, will become contiguous hallways that will connect the different wings of the school.

Also on the project list will be a slow improvement and replacement of the vehicle fleet, new air conditioning in the original gym, which was built in 1917 but is still being utilized and finally a plan to upgrade and update the electrical infrastructure of the entire school building.

But of all the projects, Howell is most relieved that now he will be able to bring the two youngest classes in from the portable classrooms that are too accessible as they are now situated just off of a city street, he said.

"These here, the little ones out in these classrooms have been what worried me and I am so happy to get them in where they will be safe."