The Wilson Board of Education held a community meeting on Tuesday, May 19 @ 6pm in the elementary school cafeteria. After a roll call by Minute Clerk Tresa Carlile determined Supt. Stinson and all board members, except Brian Raines, were present, President Idleman opened the meeting to discuss the proposed combined $5.550,000 school bond issue. Principals Denise Brunk, Gary Labeth and Gary Scott Labeth, Coaches John Black and David McGuire, Ag-Ed teacher, Joe Buzidragis, ARC architect John Buckley, and Stephen H. McDonald & Associates Vice-President Olen Treadway were present.
President Idleman promptly gave Supt. Stinson the floor. The superintendent began addressing our school district’s need for the bond issuance by explaining the current status of several school buildings: 1) With all the rains, the Ag-Ed classroom trailer has mold and mildew growing underneath, as well as varmints living below it. The cramped portable classroom has not met Career Tech standards for the last eight years. There is a forthcoming letter from the OSDE itemizing the Ag-Ed classroom deficiencies and urging WISD to update. Presently, Ag-Ed students must leave the aged trailer classroom and utilize the computer lab in the WHS building. 2) The WMS building has continuous roof leaks due to the flat roof design. 3) The almost 45-yr old WES building does not yet leak, but the roof has deteriorated and is in need of replacing. A new metal roof is proposed.
Mr. Stinson informed the audience that the lower portion beneath the home bleachers in the new gymnasium is designed to be a class F5 tornado shelter capable of housing 1,000 Wilson residents. In combination with the existing community storm shelter capacity of 500 residents, this would provide sufficient space for the entire current Wilson population, if necessary. The WISD fleet of school buses are aging and all but the two newest, which are five years old, are in excess of 100k miles. Two new replacement school buses are proposed in a separate proposition.
Girls Basketball Coach John Black stated during the recent rains, as many as ten buckets were needed to catch roof leaks in the current gymnasium. This problem has deteriorated the sub-floor causing wood rot and “dead” spots on the basketball court. In addition, there have been toilet facilities removed in the locker rooms and the odor is almost unbearable during sewage backups. The last time the basketball court was sanded and resurfaced, the contractor informed the coaches that the floor would probably not withstand any more reconditioning without replacing the sub-floor and surface flooring. Boys Basketball Coach David McGuire stated there was a constant demand being placed on the gym. Between games and practices, the six WISD basketball teams, 6th/7th boys & girls, 8th/9th boys & girls, and WHS boys & girls, the 35-year old facility was in perpetual use. This continuous heavy demand is not only causing scheduling conflicts, but rapidly accelerating the worsening condition of the gym floor.
WMS Principal Gary Labeth stated in a past conversation, former superintendent Wesley J. Hull had informed him that the current gym was never intended to be a high school gymnasium. At the time of its construction, the old gymnasium was still being utilized as the high school gym. Mr. Hull stated he had intended to build a high school gymnasium, but was never able to raise the necessary funds. Supt. Stinson told the audience that the proposed new gymnasium would be utilized by the WMS and WHS, leaving the current gym for the elementary, in addition to numerous little league basketball teams. Supt. Stinson said, “This new gym is not about me, the school board, the faculty, or the coaches; it’s about the kids. I don’t think our students should have to compete academically or athletically with inferior facilities. This new bond issue is about giving our students the best we can provide by investing in their future.”
Currently, Wilson is unable to host regional or area basketball tournaments due to capacity requirements. However, with the new proposed facility, hundreds of visiting teams’ supporters could attend district, regional and possibly area tournaments. Although Wilson Schools would not receive the gate proceeds, concession sales would represent increased revenues, in addition to increased local business activity.
Norman-based ARC Architect John Buckley stated the proposed gymnasium roof warranty would be for 20 years, A/C and heating equipment would have 15-16 Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratings (SEER), and the construction project would require approximately six months to complete. Mr. Buckley said the gymnasium would have a closed-circuit TV system for the concession stand and coaches, as well as a pro-style sound system and PA with wireless microphones. He confirmed the 1,000 capacity community storm shelter under the home-side bleachers would withstand an F5 tornado with up to 345 mph winds.
Representing the Norman-based school district financial advising firm, McDonald and Assoc., VP Olen Treadway provided attendees with informational handouts that indicated the proposed $5.550,000 bonds would be issued in 16 separate two-year bonds over a 16 year period to comply with Oklahoma laws and regulations. According to McDonald and Associates’ website, the firm claims to “represent more school districts on General Obligation Bond Issues than the other firms in the state combined.” with a staff that “has over 150 years of experience in the area of finance and over 40 years in the field of education.”
Mr. Treadway stated the 16 annually issued two-year bonds would remain sufficiently below the state’s 10% debt to valuations limit to allow for additional bond issuances, if necessary. With less than 1% of Carter County’s net assessed property valuations, WISD #43 could never legally pass a bond for more than a meager $313,000, far below the construction costs for almost any improvements, without this staggered approach. According to Carter County Assessor Kim Caines’ office, during the 2007-08 tax collections, I-43 (WISD) currently has the lowest bonded debt of $600,000 and lowest net levy of $120,802 in total collections of any county school district.
Using I-43 historical statistical data and current bond market data, McDonalds & Associates used an annual 2% property valuations increase and a 3.75% bond rate to calculate their Taxpayer Cost Analysis projections. Based upon this analysis, the proposed bond issue would increase an annual property tax liability of $500 to $625, or roughly $10 per month. Mr. Treadway stated the current bond market represents a great value for school districts, while architect John Buckley stated the current economic slowdown was motivating construction contractors to be especially competitive for capital improvement projects.
Supt. Stinson agreed that if the two bond propositions did not pass on the Sept. 8 election, the delay would only increase costs for the inevitable investments required to provide our growing school district and students with a safe and sufficient environment for their continued education. In closing, Supt. Stinson reminded everyone that the latest date for registering to vote in the bond election was August 14. He stated that the school district would provide parents with the voter registration forms during the fall enrollment, as well.
President Tommie Sue Idleman appointed board member Gerald Jones as temporary clerk before moving to pass a resolution to authorize the calling of a special election on Sept. 8 to submit the question of a bond issuance for $5,390,000 to the registered voters residing within the I-43 school district. Board member Jackie Smith seconded with an unanimous approval by the board. Vice-President Jackie Hartman moved to pass a similar resolution for a bond issuance of $160,000 for the purchase of two school buses. Acting clerk Gerald Jones seconded the motion, followed by another unanimous board approval.
In a subsequent conversation on other school matters, Supt. Stinson stated the swimming pool would open on June 1 as planned due to the recent hiring of Robin Morris as pool manager. The installation of surveillance cameras would soon be completed and the field house construction project would be completed during the summer.