As many are aware, Antlers Public Schools will be having a bond election on September 10, 2019. The decision to call for the election by the school board and the administration was not a decision that was taken lightly or without a lot of thought. This will be the first in a series of articles leading up to the election to explain why the call for the election was necessary. We hope that voters will find them informative and that they will be able to cast their votes based on the needs of the district and what is best for the students of the Antlers Public Schools
The long range plan that is detailed in the following paragraphs was developed by the long range planning committee. This plan accomplishes the goals of the long range planning committee of looking 25-50 years into the future for Antlers Public Schools. The order of projects could change according to needs. The committee will continue to meet periodically to review this plan and the school’s facilities. Additional phases will be required in the future to keep the facilities up to current educational standards.
The long range planning committee of the Antlers Public Schools consisted of local business leaders, faculty, parents and administration. The committee met on January 30, 2019 to begin discussion regarding the condition of the school’s facilities. The committee decided to meet again on February 20, 2019 and to conduct a walk though of the main classroom buildings (Antlers Elementary, Obuch Middle School, and Antlers High School). Committee members made recommendations based on the highest priority for upkeep or replacement of the facilities.
The committee developed a long range plan to address the needs of the Antlers Public Schools regarding the facilities. The plan is designed to provide guidance for the replacement and maintenance of the school facilities. This plan will be implemented in 3 separate phases as financing is available. The bond election on September 10, 2019 will accomplish the first phase of the long range plan.
The committee recommended the construction of a new modern middle school, including a safe room, on the east side of the high school cafeteria (current tennis courts) to replace the current middle school along with the construction of new elementary cafeteria on the east side of the current elementary (between the Aletha Burrage building and the Vegher Building) to replace the current middle school cafeteria and demolition of current middle school and middle school cafeteria.
The second phase of the facilities plan would be for the replacement of the current Vegher Building and Pre-K/Kindergarten Building. It would consist of constructing a Pre-K/Kindergarten center, elementary library and additional elementary classrooms on the site of the current Obuch Middle School Building, construction of Tech Ed classroom at the high school/ middle school campus and the demolition of the Vegher building to create a new student pickup and drop off point for the elementary.
The third phase of the facilities plan would be to completely remodel the interior of the current Antlers High School, construction of a new Vocational Agriculture building, completely remodel the Bobby Harris Gymnasium and to do renovations at the football field, baseball field and softball field. Maintenance will need to continue at each of these facilities in order for us to get to this point. Also, some of these projects could be pushed up depending on the costs of Phase 1 and Phase 2 construction.
The Antlers Public Schools will be hosting on open house on August 20, 2019 and on September 3, 2019 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM so that patrons of the district can tour the current Obuch Middle School. Interested parties should meet at the middle school those evenings. We invite everyone to please come in order to be more informed about your voting decision.
The long range planning committee worked diligently to develop a plan to address the needs of Antlers Public Schools regarding the facilities. The plan that was developed is designed to provide guidance for the replacement and maintenance of the school facilities. This plan will be implemented in 3 separate phases over a period of years. The bond election on September 10, 2019 will accomplish the first phase of the long range plan.
The recommendation of the committee was the replacement of the middle school and middle school cafeteria. This building was originally constructed in 1957 and added on to in 1966. The building is experiencing several issues both structurally and mechanically.
The roof continues to leak despite a new roof being installed approximately 7 years ago, the foundation is cracking in several areas and there is water seeping into the library through the foundation. These two issues are directly related to each other. As the water continues to seep in through the foundation of the downstairs section of the building, it causes that part of the building to move. The foundation of the upstairs section of the building appears to be stable. The movement of the building has caused problems to develop in the area where the two building are attached to one another. Multiple attempts have been made over the years to stop the water leaks that develop in this area. Every attempt has been short-lived. When the building shifts, a new leak will appear. The roof also leaks in several classrooms because of the air conditioning units on top of the building, even though there have been multiple attempts to seal the areas around the units.
The building is inefficient to heat and cool due to the atrium on the lower level and there is no heat or air conditioning in the hallways. During the past school year, the temperature in the hallway of the middle school registered 48 degrees on the coldest morning of the year. As we are headed back to school, the afternoon temperatures in the hallway will be around 90 degrees.
The mechanical systems of the building are inefficient by today’s standards. Some classrooms continue to use heat units that were part of the original construction. The air conditioning units were installed after original construction and contribute to the problems with the roof leaking. The electrical system is not adequate to meet the demands for today’s modern classroom. Some classrooms have only one electrical outlet while others have been retrofitted to accommodate technology needs.
The cafeteria that serves both the middle school and the elementary school was part of the original 1957 construction. This cafeteria is accessed by approximately 700 students per day and serves close to 1000 meals per day. The kitchen area is small and experiencing many of the same mechanical problems as the rest of the building. The plumbing and electrical systems, along with heat and air units, are old and in need of constant and costly repairs. The serving area does not flow well when students are receiving their meals, which causes delays for students during serving times. The cafeteria serves as a large group meeting place for the middle school as well as for community organizations.
As you can read, there is a need for a new middle school and elementary cafeteria. Please remember the needs of the students when casting your vote in the upcoming school bond election.
The proposed school bond election on the September 10, 2019 was designed to meet the needs of our students. It is a great opportunity to invest in our students and community. As with any school bond election there will be an increase in property taxes for the property owners in the Antlers School district. The increase in taxes will be necessary to generate the funds necessary to build a new middle school and elementary cafeteria.
Most investments are usually a risk vs. reward situation. The investment that a community makes in its self and the school district has no risk only reward. The reward is modern school buildings that provide for the educational needs of our students as well as being able to assist the community with attracting business partners. When new businesses are approached by any community about relocating, usually one of the first things they want to know is about the school.
The total amount of the bond is $14,230,000.00 with a projected construction cost of 9,682,416.00. The difference between the two figures is the interest that will be paid on the bonds. It is very similar to purchasing a home. The sale of the bonds will provide the Antlers Public Schools with the money, up front, that is necessary to complete the projects and will be paid back over the length of the bonds with interest.
Due to the fact that the Antlers Public Schools does not currently have any bonded indebtedness, the tax increase is significant. The increase will be $40.00 for every $100.00 in property taxes that a person pays. So if your current property taxes are $100.00 per year they would increase to $140.00.
The last time the Antlers Public Schools had any type of bond debt was when the bond for the current high school, cafeteria and auditorium was passed in March 1986. That bond was for 10 years and was retired in 1996. At that time property taxes were returned to the lower assessed rate and have remained there ever since. Since the retirement of the bond in 1996 we have enjoyed some of the lowest property taxes in the state of Oklahoma at the cost of neglecting our school facilities. At the time the bond was retired in 1996 or if two previous bond issues had passed, then a large increase in property taxes all at one would not be needed to replace the middle school and cafeteria.
In most school districts, property taxes are increased in smaller increments over a long period of time with a succession of bond initiatives to be able to raise the capital necessary to construct buildings. Our situation is somewhat different due to the fact that the condition of the current middle school does not allow us the time to act slowly. Also, commercial construction costs are rising at a projected rate of 3%4% per year.
As a community it is our responsibility to provide for the education of the children and a major part of that responsibility are the school buildings.