School board backs plans for bond proposal
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Many people have weighed in on Mid-Del Schools’ plans for an upcoming bond proposal.
Last Thursday was the school board’s turn.
During a bond planning workshop last Thursday, the board heard presentations on potential bond projects as well as details about the district’s bonding capacity and how it would impact property taxes.
Superintendent Rick Cobb outlined a list of projects being considered including safety and security, construction projects, and recurring costs such as transportation, instructional materials and fine arts and athletic equipment.
The biggest projects included improvements to athletic and fine arts facilities and possibly replacing Townsend Elementary with a new building on the same site. A swimming facility is also being considered through a partnership with the YMCA and municipalities.
The total projects are estimated to cost about $210 million with exception of a swimming pool. The district does not have an estimate on the pool. Cobb said they are shooting for an October bond election.
“I don’t think there’s a project that I showed you that isn’t a good idea,” Cobb said.
The board agreed emphatically.
Ed Daniel, board member, said he supports Cobb’s plan and believes the district must modernize its facilities rather than simply maintaining them.
“Let’s not be afraid to move our district forward,” he said. “We need to balance the needs with modernizing our schools and moving into the future.”
Silvya Kirk, board president, also backed the plan, which would include improvements for every community in the district.
“Our kids deserve the best,” she said.
Zack Robinson, vice president of BOK financial services, provided an overview of bond financing, and looked at the district’s historical net assessed valuation growth and millage rate. Robinson said the district has been able to stay below its target millage rate of 30 mills in recent years due to favorable growth in the district’s net assessed valuation. He presented scenarios for the upcoming bond election that would keep the current millage rate or raise it by 1-3 mills. He estimated that raising the target millage rate by 1 mill would increase the total property taxes for a $150,000 house by about $1.38 per month. It would increase by about $2.75 per month for 32 mills, and $4.13 per month for 33 mills.
Cobb asked the board for feedback on the bond financing scenarios.
“I think a 15-year bond with no tax increase, I think we could sell that easy,” he said. “A 15-year bond with a small tax increase, could we sell that? It’s harder but I don’t think it’s entirely impossible.”
Gina Standridge, school board member, agreed with Cobb’s assessment.
“I think our community is ready for us to do something, and I think even our most struggling parents would say they would do it for $4.13 (per month),” Standridge said.
Cobb said he plans to present the board with a bond resolution in June. The district is planning to put the bond issue on the ballot in October.
At Carl Albert High School, plans would include a 27,700-square-foot classroom addition on the southwest corner of the school. The addition would include two floors and 12 classrooms. Plans also call for a new choir room, band storage, and improvements to accessibility.
Midwest City High School would receive a new 24,000 fine arts addition that would be built between the Performing Arts Center and the main school building. It would include space for band, orchestra, choir and drama. The current band room, which is located a long distance from the main school building, would be repurposed.
Plans for Del City High School would include a 12,000-square-foot band and orchestra addition that would connect to the performing arts center. The current band/orchestra building would be repurposed.
The district’s athletic facilities would receive a boost in the plan. The biggest would be a multipurpose athletic facility at each high school. The 55,000 square-foot buildings would include space for dressing rooms and storage. The buildings would not have heat or air conditioning but would be cooled by large fans. Cobb said they would be built over existing turf practice fields at Carl Albert and Midwest City high schools. At Del City High School, the multipurpose facility would be located east of Robert Kalsu Stadium.
Track resurfacing, video scoreboards, lighting and sound improvements are also planned for all three stadiums. Visitor seating would be replaced at Del City and Carl Albert. Locker rooms and visitor concession/restrooms are also planned at Carl Albert.
Storms shelters would be added at all the high schools.
At Del City and Midwest City middle schools, the district would like to expand the cafeterias, build new kitchens, and replace portable buildings with permanent classroom space. Plans also include a new or remodeled library at Del City Middle School. Carl Albert Middle School would see additional classroom space to handle increased enrollment.
Another big project being discussed is a new Townsend Elementary School. Initial plans include building a new building behind the current school. Cobb said the district built new elementary schools in the Midwest City and Carl Albert regions in the past decade, but not Del City. Townsend would not need to be as large as Midwest City Elementary and Soldier Creek.
There are also talks of a new indoor swimming facility. Cobb said they are still discussing a potential partnership with the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City and local municipalities. If a pool is included in a bond issue, it would likely be listed as a separate standalone item on the ballot, Cobb said.