Editor’s Note: This is the sixth and final part in a series of articles about projects included in Mid-Del School District’s upcoming $492 million bond proposal. The election is set for Oct. 10.
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Many of the projects included in the upcoming Mid-Del School District’s bond election include building projects or renovations.
But not all of them.
The district is also seeking to include funding for recurring purchase of technology, textbooks, equipment for fine arts and athletics as well as transportation. Superintendent Rick Cobb says the funding will help the district to continue updating these areas on an annual basis.
In the 2017 bond issue, the district added about $900,000 annually for recurring expenses for technology, transportation, and textbooks. The district is increasing that to $2 million for technology and $1 million for textbooks and decreased the amount to $600,000 for transportation.
“The cost of instructional material has gone up and technology is obviously a greater need,” Cobb said.
Voters will decide on the $492 million bond issue during a special election on Oct. 10. School officials project that the nearly 20-year bond issue will increase property taxes by $2.75 per month for a house valued at $150,000.
Technology and textbooks
The need for technology has grown in recent years.
Cobb said the district receives money from the state for textbooks, but not for technology.
“It’s one of the ways that the cost of education has grown, so we keep putting money into salaries, which we should do, but the state is not helping schools invest in technology.”
If approved, the district will have at least $2 million in seed money for technology.
The district purchased devices for each student and teacher a couple of years ago using COVID funds. Cobb said they would like to add new devices each year, so they won’t need to replace all of them at once.
“We’re trying to stagger the purchase of those,” Cobb said.
Schools rely more heavily on online devices for learning, but it has not replaced the need for textbooks. Cobb said they still purchase textbooks for many classes and grade levels.
The district replaced its entire fleet of buses over the last six years, reducing the need for funds in the current bond issue. Mid-Del still needs to replace about 2-3 maintenance vehicles per year.
“We’re not in the same position we were six years ago where we needed to have a real quick turnaround on replacing as many buses as possible,” Cobb said.
The lifespan of a school bus depends on how it’s used. Cobb said the district tries to rotate buses throughout its fleet to try and ensure even wear.
“If you think about number of starts and stops on a bus, 100,000 miles on a bus is a lot harder than 100,000 miles on a personal vehicle,” Cobb said.
Fine arts and athletics
The bond issues included additional money for uniforms and equipment for fine arts and athletics. It will provide about $200-250,000 to fine arts and athletics each year.
Cobb said the district can adjust the way the money is divided each year, depending on need.
“If there’s a year that we need to spend less on textbooks and more on technology, we can move some of that around,” he said. “It’s not a hard and fast $2 million for technology.”
If the district’s ad valorem continued to exceed estimates, the district will have more money available for recurring costs.