The Woodward News

January 8, 2014

School bond vote set in Fort Supply

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Fort Supply School District patrons will be voting next Tuesday on a $2.1 million school bond issue slated to provide a more safe and secure environment for the district's children as well as update the district's transportation system.

It will be the first bond issue Fort Supply School patrons have considered since 5 years ago when voters approved a bond to construct the new gym, according to Fort Supply Superintendent Pat Howell

The gym bond pays off this year., Howell said. That offers the school district a chance to get funding to update the school building by constructing an addition, improve its electrical infrastructure and replace some aging vehicles, he said.

In this particular district, where the skyline is dotted by hundreds of wind turbines, there is some good news about how the bond will be paid for, Howell said.

"More than 80 percent of the cost of this bond will be paid for by the wind farms," he said. "That means, for every $1,000 you pay in property tax, you will pay $12 extra if the bond passes."

At present, the school, which serves about 125 students, utilizes portable classrooms and while it does have security cameras, there is still growing concern about the students in the portable classrooms and the ability to lock down the school effectively if needed, Howell said.

For that reason the largest portion of the bond money, if the measure passes, will be used to construct a new addition onto the school building.

That addition, set to be situated in the middle courtyard area, will allow the pre-k and kindergarten students to come inside from the portable building where their classes are held currently, he said.

"What we will do if the bond passes is bring those pre-k and kindergarten students inside the facility where we can control who is coming and going and keep them safe," he said.

The new addition will also be constructed in such a way that it will serve as a safe room for the entire school, he said.

At present, the district has a storm shelter which is across the street. But the shelter takes about 7 minutes on a good day to get to and the students have to leave the safety of building to get there, he said.

A new, secure entry for the school will also be a part of the plans, Howell said.

The new entryway will face the west instead of the south and it will include a secure entry system where only those people recognized or with a code can enter the building, he said.

Also in the plans for the bond is a phased in vehicle replacement program that will allow the school to update its fleet of four-wheel-drive Suburbans, which the small district uses on routes like most districts use buses.

At present, the district owns three Suburbans. According to Howell, the plan is to purchase a new Suburban to make it a four vehicle fleet and then once a year, replace the most aging of the former three with a new vehicle.

"Our plans then, is to work the purchase of one new Suburban into our budget system so that I don't have to go back to the voter again for a vehicle bond in the future, it will just be a part of our regular budget," he said.

Also included in the plans for improvement will be installing air conditioning in the older gym that is still used for festivals, summer basketball practice and other events, Howell said.

Finally, plans to improve the electrical infrastructure of the building to better handle the increased load with more than 100 computers as well as larger air conditioning units will also be considered if the bond passes, Howell said.

"You know, this building was built in 1962 and it has served us well and still is," he said. "But when they built this building, I am sure they never planned for the electrical system to deal with 100 computers and large air conditioning units."