By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Voters in both Chisholm and Fairview school districts will go to the polls Tuesday to decide on bond questions.
Chisholm Public Schools is seeking $17.9 million to build a new elementary school, complete with a tornado safe shelter.
Fairview Public Schools will have two bond questions totaling $480,000. The first is a $335,000 bond question for construction of a safe room storm shelter at the middle school, and the second is a $145,000 question to purchase one full-size and one mini bus.
“It is not a secret that the current facility housing our elementary students presents many maintenance challenges,” said Roydon Tilley, Chisholm superintendent. “One part of the building was originally constructed in the 1920s.”
Tilley said the proposed new elementary school is designed with recent heightened concerns of security and student safety during tornadoes in mind.
“The current facility has become a chronic maintenance problem,” Tilley said. “We routinely spend thousands of dollars to repair the roof, plumbing, heat and air, as well as the aging electrical wiring serving the building.”
Within the past two years, electrical issues have resulted in a building evacuation and the fire department being summoned, Tilley said.
“The new facility would provide a tornado shelter that could be utilized by the students during school hours, and the community would be able to access the shelter during other periods of severe weather,” Tilley said. “Additionally, the new facility would double the size of the current cafeteria. Due to the existing cafeteria’s small size, only one grade level can be served lunch at a time. This means seven grade levels to feed and a starting time of 10:40 a.m. The new facility will provide updated food preparation equipment, as well as much more efficiency in serving students in a timely manner.”
Tilley said that if both measures are approved by voters, the tax increase would be about $6.09 per month on a $100,000 home.
Rocky Burchfield, superintendent of Fairview Schools, said the district hopes to replace two full-size buses with one full-size bus and one 29-passenger mini bus. Gradually decreasing enrollment has meant the district no longer needs one full-size bus, Burchfield said.
The buses can be purchased for $145,000.
The $335,000 bond question for construction of a safe room storm shelter at the middle school came about after last spring’s tornado strike on schools in Moore, as well as 2011 tornadoes around Fairview, Burchfield said.
“It puts a lump in your throat, thinking that you can’t take care of your kids,” Burchfield said.
The district already had been working on a FEMA grant and still is working on one for the elementary school, Burchfield said.
The shelter would be a 1,500-square foot building with rough-out plumbing and electrical service, so to be easily adaptable later as classrooms or other use, Burchfield said.
If both pass, the effect on property taxes will be a 3.26 percent increase — or $32.60 more for every $1,000 in taxes paid — but only for two years.
“Our mill levy goes down considerably in two years as we pay off other bonds,” Burchfield added.