Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
Woodward’s population has increased from less than 12,000 just 10 years ago to 13,000 plus, said Woodward City Manager Alan Riffel.
"While we see those statistics increasing from less than 12,000 ten years ago to the estimated 13,000+ currently inside our city limits, that does not reflect the impact of working families moving into the surrounding area," Riffel said. "We are watching our school attendance burst upward. That's a positive factor from a local economic perspective, or as a point in creating a healthy community, but it places a tremendous burden on the school system to provide quality education settings for our students.”
Until about 3 years ago, Woodward school district enjoyed a pretty static number of students, usually running around the 2,500 range, said Woodward Deputy Superintendent Kyle Reynolds.
About three years ago, with families moving to Woodward for a growing number of jobs opening, school rolls began to fill up, Reynolds said.
“This year will be the first that we bumped up to near 3,000,” Reynolds said.
Overcrowding though, has been on the minds of Woodward Board of Education staff for several years now. Ever since 2009, when the Early Childhood Center opened to rave reviews and an enrollment that nearly met the limit of people the building was designed for, overcrowding there has topped some discussions, Reynolds said.
“You go back five years ago when we did the preliminary planning for the Early Childhood Center and you know, it was built to hold 750 people including teachers, Reynolds said. “When we did enrollment we had 725 people there.”
This year, at one point, the ECC had nearly 800 in the building, still including first graders, he said.
"We have supported many forward-thinking projects in Woodward, but there is no more important investment we can make as a city than in delivering a good education to our kids," Riffel said.
The bond, if passed will address overcrowding by adding classroom space with new construction in all three elementary schools, a vast renovation in the middle school and added space in the multi-purpose room to ease schedule conflicts with that space, Reynolds said.
The bond, if passed, would address overcrowding by:
1. Adding five new classrooms-two of which would be safe/classrooms-in each of the elementary schools. This allows the retirement of the portable buildings, which are a security issue and also allows first graders to return to the elementary school-easing crowding at the ECC.
2. Reducing the number of students going to ECC (first graders) also reduces the traffic on 34th street, including the foot traffic in and out of that school.
3. Renovation construction on the middle school returns to full use the north campus, which has been unusable (except for one small portion of it) because it is not up to code standards. The renovation of this campus will provide more classroom space as well as connect the north and south campuses, creating a more secure, totally enclosed school campus by a secure fence.
4. Renovation at the middle school will also provide space for a new library, new office space with a secure entry vestibule and a large multi-purpose room that doubles as a safe room.
5. The middle school will also receive a renovation so that it meets handicap accessibility and safety code. This renovation will include fire sprinklers and an elevator.
6. The high school will receive a new multi-purpose room, which doubles as a safe room. The entryway into the gymnasium will be renovated to allow more space and a location where the public coming to daytime activities will be able to enter directly into the gymnasium rather than the front door of the high school. This helps separate the public from the general population of the school.
7. The high school gymnasium will also be handicap accessible.