By Jacob Sturm
Mustang Public Schools Momentum23 bond proposal vote is nearing, and those registered to vote within the 72 square-miles the District covers will have the chance to decide its fate.
In previous editions of the Mustang Times, different portions of the bond proposal (Elementary No. 9, High School Expansion, HVAC and Safety Corridor) have been highlighted. Now comes the next portion of the bond: Recurring Funds.
So, what are recurring funds?
These are dollars annually allocated over a set period of time. Recurring funds allow the school district to address preventative maintenance, address program needs as they arise and respond to emergencies.
Charles Bradley, the MPS Superintendent, said that Bond funds are only spent for capital improvement and items that have to have a life span of five years according to the legal language for the bond. They cannot be used for salaries, stipends, etc. He also said the recurring dollars are the lifeblood for any growing District and allow funds to be available for emergencies, preventative maintenance, and programmatic needs.
Momentum23 recurring funds will address improvements to safety and security, the purchase of textbooks, playground refreshes for elementary and intermediate schools, heating and air conditioning (HVAC) improvements, the purchase of technology and technology upgrades, textbooks, program equipment or materials and new buses.
That means each school site will be impacted by the bond.
Purchasing equipment, instruments, materials and uniforms for MPS Fine Arts is also be included in the funds. Mustang Athletics won’t be left out either. The funds are included for buying equipment, instruments, materials and uniforms.
“When asking the community to vote on a bond issue, it’s a legitimate and fair request (to ask) where the money will go, if the bond is approved,” Bradley said. “The bond resolution, propositions and ballot language are highly technical as required by law, but we try to be as specific as legally allowable. When the language states funds will go toward a specific area such as technology, textbooks, instructional material, fine arts, athletics, etc; we want the community to know that those funds are dedicated to those areas and will go there.”
Currently, MPS recurring funds are provided by a previous (2012) bond. That expires at the end of the school year. That means the upcoming bond issue will help expand the level of service, and even the budget, that each area receives.
If the bond fails to pass, MPS would experience significant cuts to the budgets, which would hurt the district. MPS Director of Communications, Kirk Wilson, summarized recurring funds role for MPS.
“Recurring dollars are what makes the District run smoothly,” Wilson said. “When a $100,000 HVAC unit goes out, the recurring dollars allow us to respond quickly and address the issue. Without these funds, the money to repair a unit would be pulled from the General Fund which would compete directly with salaries/benefits; it is a difficult situation to be in if the choice is between hiring a new staff member or replacing/repairing an HVAC unit. These recurring funds also allow for preventative maintenance which would hopefully prevent the $100,000 HVAC from going out in the first place. The benefits derived from the 2012 Bond in recurring dollars are innumerable, and it would be a hardship on the District if they aren’t replaced by the Momentum23 funds.”
Recurring funds can also roll over into future years, but the total allotment funded by the bond must be spent where it is supposed to be after 11 years. Future bonds can also account for recurring funds and be stacked on to the end of the recurring funds requested in the Momentum23 bond.
Polls will be open from 7a.m. to 7p.m. for voting on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Anyone within the 72 square-miles of the Mustang Public School District is eligible to vote.
(The Mustang Times print edition indicated the recurring funds would be used for capital improvements. We have updated the story to correctly state the funds proper use).