Those living inside the Minco School District will vote Tuesday, November 14 to approve or deny a $22.53 million bond to build a track worthy of hosting major track meets at the high school, relocate its football field inside the track, improve facilities for the district’s softball and baseball programs, among other projects.
More on those projects can be read about in the columns written by Minco Head Football Coach Brock Wardlaw and Superintendent Kevin Sims, both included on this page.
The bond’s detractors have raised a number of issues, including why Joe D. Hall General Contractors was chosen to lead the proposed project, instead of CMS Willowbrook.
Minco Schools Superintendent Kevin Sims said Monday, “Joe D. Hall is one of the best construction companies in the State of Oklahoma. I would also say CMS Willowbrook, out of Chickasha, is one of the best construction companies in the State of Oklahoma. I think they’re the two finest, in my opinion. Joe D. Hall did our high school project in 2013 through 2015. He did our middle school project 2019 through 2020. The advantage of using someone like Joe D. Hall is that he has such a vast network. He gets a tremendous amount of bids. For instance, on the high school project, that was budgeted out at around $8 million. It came in at around $7.2 million. We had about $800,000 left over because of the amount of bidders that bid on those projects. The same for the middle school, there was about $400,000-to-$500,000 left. We were able to completely renovate all technology through the district. We built a hitting facility for baseball and softball with what was left over at that time. Joe D. Hall is good at what he does. The purpose of a construction manager is they manage the whole project. They manage the bidding process. They are our consultants, and Joe D. Hall has done such a tremendous job. They work for Tuttle Public Schools. They work for Amber-Pocasset Public Schools. They work for Minco Public Schools. They work for Hinton Public Schools, they work for Oklahoma City Public Schools. They do many, many schools in this area. They do tremendous work, and they save schools a lot of money and they’re honest and the, the most important part of a relationship between a superintendent and board and the consultant and architect is trust and we fully trust Joe D. Hall.”
Superintendent Sims explained that the district wanted to include the ag barn with this bond, but it was just too much to ask for all at once. The ag barn was ruled out for this phase, despite some adjustments the district attempted to keep it in.
Sims said the school system would look to see what they could do to improve the ag barn in the meantime, and that it would be included in Phase 2, if Phase 1 gets approved.
“We started out in 2019 with a meeting while we were in the process of constructing the middle school,” Sims said. “I started meetings on a strategic plan of where we’re going to go, how we’re going to get there, and so forth, with the committee. And then COVID interrupted those committee meetings, and we didn’t have them for well over a year, but the things that we decided through the committee that we really needed to see next improve was track, football, baseball, softball, and of course an ag facility. As we looked, we realized we could do a bond this year. Last year, we started working real hard with my committee. We met several times with the construction manager, meeting with the architects. We knew that we can’t afford everything we wanted to do, which were the early childhood center, the ag barn, baseball, softball, track, and football rather. We can’t do all those at once, so we prioritized what we needed. The most impactful thing that can be built was a track. We have over 100 student athletes that compete in track. It makes sense to have the lighting and the seating because we can draw large numbers to track meets. Those things can really help fund your athletic program, having large track meets, especially in the spring. It really takes the pressure off your athletic budget. We felt like with adequate seating, we could possibly host an OSSAA regional track meet for class A and 2A, and that would bring in a lot of money to the district, to our athletic program. Once you put the lights out there, once you put in the seating, it only makes sense that you put a football field with it. We narrowed it down to Phase 1 back in the spring to doing track, the football complex, and show barn. That was Phase 1. This summer, the architect drew up the plans of the track, the football field, and ag show barn, and that was sent to the CM. The cost came back. We can’t afford all that. We tried taking out the weight room, and the weight room would remain out at the gym. It reduced the field house almost 50 percent in square footage. We also reduced the ag barn quite a bit. We took some things out of it to get it to fit within the budget. We resent it to the CM, and it came back still too expensive. In September, at the board meeting when we called the election, we had to agree that the Ag Show Barn, although very important to us, and we want it, and we feel like it’s needed, is going to have to wait until the second phase, because of a dollar issue, not because of any other reason. That’s why we did that.”
Nextera Energy Resources is investing $344 million into Minco that will provide $39 million of tax revenue to Minco, according to the company’s website. Sims says corporations will shoulder the majority of the cost.
“It’s a 4% tax increase for most of the district,” Sims said. “My personal taxes, I have two properties where my dad lives, where I live. I paid a little over $3,000 a year in property taxes for those two properties. My monthly increase will be $10 a month there about. If the valuation goes up next year, that comes down a little bit, but I’m willing to do that as a taxpayer. Most of the burden is on Nextera, Midship Pipeline, Braum’s, it’s on corporations and companies.”
Sims and other proponents of the bond will have another presentation about the bond at Prime Roast Coffee, located at 217 Main Street in Minco, Thursday, November 9 at 8:30 a.m.