The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 18, 2012

Addressing needs: Chisholm Schools slates April 3 bond issue vote

ENID — A laundry list of needs at Chisholm Public Schools will be addressed when voters go to the polls April 3 to vote yes or no on two bond propositions totaling $1.35 million.

One question on the ballot will be the proposed purchase of six buses. According to Chisholm Superintendent Roydon Tilley, the district hopes to replace five 71-passenger buses and an activity bus. The proposed 71-passenger buses will replace buses as old as 1998 in the district’s fleet of 17.

“Our current activity bus has 600,000 miles and has become unreliable,” Tilley said.

The reason that’s a concern is clear: Students and sponsors frequently return from trips at late hours, Tilley said.

Kent Sales, a Chisholm parent who supports the bond propositions, can speak to the unreliability of the activity bus. A trip to Okeene did not go as intended, he said.

“I have rescued some of them at a football game last year,” Sales said. “I got ready to go in and our bus was sitting on the highway.”

After the game, Sales’s son called him to say the bus once again was broken down on the road.

“I picked up several kids and brought them home,” Sales said.

The other question on the ballot will be the proposed replacement of the high school’s 38-year-old air handling unit; 200 computers and monitors along with servers, switches, firewalls and routers and software upgrades; lockers for the middle school; band instruments and equipment; and replacement of the press box at the football field and track.  All together these purchases total $575,000.

The air-handling unit of the high school heating and cooling system is 38 years old. Although the district has spent several thousand dollars attempting repairs, it still does not function properly, Tilley said. The estimated cost to replace it is $75,000.

Sales said of all the proposed purchases, he considers the air-handling unit the top priority. Temperatures in the high school vary greatly from one room to another, Sales said.

“Between the repair costs that they’ve put into it and — if I’m not mistaken, that’s the original system — it needs to be replaced,” Sales said.

The district operates more than 350 computer workstations. It is hoped 200 new computers and monitors, servers, switches, firewalls, routers and software updates can be purchased.

“The computer labs at each school are in need of updated computers and software,” Tilley said. “Servers, switches, firewalls and routers are on the needs list.”

The estimated cost of the technology updates is $200,000.

As the days until the election wind down, about 50 team captains are out talking to friends and neighbors about the reasons the extra funds are needed. Ashley Ewbank, chairwoman of the Chisholm School Foundation, and Sales both have been talking to friend and neighbors about the bond propositions.

“Education obviously is an important foundation for the young people,” Ewbank said. “As a member of the school district, I want to be as supportive as I can. Some things are not going to be addressed without bonds.”

Ewbank, the mother of two sons in grade school, said she’s gotten positive response so far.

“Everyone I’ve come into contact with is very understanding that bonds are necessary to meet certain needs,” Ewbank said.

Sales said this is his fourth year as a Chisholm parent.

“I’m very active in Chisholm schools, with two kids out there,” Sales said. “I love what Chisholm is doing with the kids — and this will continue that on, and help the kids.”

As to how the proposals would affect property taxes, the owner of a $100,000 house would pay about $3.46 more per month in property taxes, Tilley said. The owner of 160 acres of highly assessed farmland can expect to pay about $2.76 more per month.

It’s about keeping Chisholm schools a place where students are best prepared for their futures, Tilley said.

“Bond money is critical for preventative maintenance, major repairs and capital improvements,” Tilley said. “Without it, many of our buildings fall into disrepair. The quality of facilities affects the learning environment, safety and security of students. In addition, the quality of education is improved when students attend school in facilities which are well-maintained and updated. Our students deserve the opportunity to learn in facilities that are modern and allow them to maximize their educational experience.”

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