Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

July 31, 2013

Big changes with ECP school issue

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Elmore City area voters will have their say in a few weeks on a big bond issue that if passed will result in big school renovations and a big new gymnasium.

These two things are the main components in a school bond issue for the Elmore City-Pernell School District totaling just over $7.5 million in a series over a 14-year period.

ECP school Superintendent Donnie Darrow says the decision wasn’t made lightly to put this issue on the ballot for a Sept. 10 election.

“It’s huge to use,” Darrow said.

“The board has put a lot of thought into this,” he said. “There has been a lot of discussion on what we should be doing.

“They think this is what the community wants.”

Darrow is referring to a survey of the community a couple of years ago.

It showed most local resents wanted a new school gym and middle school, along with upgrades to the school bus fleet.

The bus thing was taken care of last year thanks to an approved bond issue.

With this new issue the idea is to not only address the gym but also the middle school concerns without a new building.

If the bond issue is passed by at least 60 percent support it would fund the renovation of the ECP High School building to create areas that would mostly separate middle school and high school age students.

Another aim of the issue is to build a brand new gym to replace the current one believed to be maybe five or six decades old.

Darrow says the idea behind a new gym it to create a safer place for fans and players alike by creating more space for both.

“We want to put the kids in a great facility to play ball in,” he said.

If passed by voters the new gym would be constructed at the site where the current ECP bus barn is located.

Another bonus with a new gym is the old one could be used for more boys and girls athletic classes, Darrow said.

As for the concept of bond issues, the superintendent says it’s a good thing for a school district to replace expiring issues, like the one that paid for ECP’s new elementary school and cafeteria, with new ones.

That way a district’s needs are addressed while the local property tax levels remain steady without any drastic increases.

In the case of this bond issue on the September ballot it’s unavoidable, he said.

Like anything else there will be a price to pay, specifically in this case there will be an increase in property taxes for homeowners in the ECP School District.

The increase is in the double digit range, which Darrow and members of the school board believe is not only worth the cost but far less than one might think.

“What this will do to taxpayers is you’ll see a 17 percent increase in your property taxes,” Darrow said.

“That sounds like a lot but for every $100 in taxes you pay right now this would be $17 more a year.”

He stresses residents need to understand there is a difference between bond issue funding and a school district’s regular state aid, which is expected to see some cuts, and the ever tighter school budget.