Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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April 3, 2014

Area school issue falls just short

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — So close yet so far when it came to this week’s election for a Wynnewood school bond issue falling just short of passage.

Even more frustrating for school officials is the majority of Wynnewood voters casting ballots for the issue on Tuesday, April 1 gave it their full support.

The measure meant to fund the construction of a brand new local elementary school still missed approval because school bond issues require at least 60 percent support.

The concept is called a “super majority” as the Wynnewood vote finished with only 54.7 percent of the support.

A total of 631 voters said yes to the $20.3 million issue compared to 523 ballots (45.3 percent) in opposition. Those vote totals are expected to be made official on Friday.

“It’s disappointing, but I feel encouraged,” said school Superintendent Raymond Cole.

“I feel like we made progress. We did get a greater percentage of yes voters.”

Cole is referring to two previous bond issues also meant to address school building needs. Both also failed to reach the 60 percent level.

With Tuesday’s vote Cole said he couldn’t help but question the super majority voting model for school issues.

“The super majority thing is obsolete,” he said.

“Because of it we lose a multi-million dollar elementary school and progress for our school district.

“I don’t know when it started, how it started or why it started,” Cole said about the law requiring school bond issues to pass by at least 60 percent support.

The issue was proposing the constructing of a brand new grade school building on the north side of town near Wynnewood’s football stadium. It would have housed students up through the fifth grade.

If the measure had passed middle school students would have been moved into the current elementary school building.

The superintendent says the vote now means he and the school board must start again the process of figuring out what to do next.

“The only answer I’ve got to that is at this point I don’t know,” Cole said about what’s next for the district.

“I can say we’ve got to do something and we’ve got to do it pretty quick.”

Specifically, Cole said the current grade school has just about reached student capacity, while the problems of having a middle school in a floodplain just aren’t going away.

Put simply, he says the district still needs another middle school facility because it would simply be too expensive to bring the current one up to code or make needed improvements.

“The middle school is one inspection away from being condemned. We’re going to have do something soon.”

Adding to it all Cole stresses the costs are only going to go up for any construction projects in the future.

That means any school building projects later on will only cost more for the district and the voters, he said.

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