MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 25, 2010

Wagoner voters asked to approve $8.57M bond issue

WAGONER — Pre-kindergarten pupils fill the halls of Lincoln Elementary School with noise and chatter.

School officials say so many youngsters are filling the 70-year-old school, they need larger, newer and more up-to-date classrooms.

Addition of a pre-kindergarten wing at Ellington Elementary School is part of a $8.57 million bond issue Wagoner Public School patrons will decide May 11.

School Superintendent Sonny Bates said the bond issue will not result in a tax rate increase because it will replace a retiring bond issue.

Bates said the district must make long-overdue repairs to ceilings, heating/air conditioning systems and parking lots.

 For example, several heating/air conditioning units date to 1965, said district Operations Director Bill Luna. “And the middle school roof has been patched and patched.”

Bates said the district formed a committee last spring to evaluate what capital issues were most critical. He said the district had hoped to use federal stabilization funds on the building repairs. However, the stabilization money was absorbed in state aid.

“And we were left wanting,” Bates said.

The district also must accommodate growth in the lower grades, officials said.

Bates said the third grade has about 234 students this year, but had averaged 190 to 200 in the past.

“It seems like we’ll be growing in the next three, five, seven years to come,” he said.

The bond issue would help fund an eight-classroom addition at Ellington Elementary to house the program for 4-year-olds. The pre-kindergarten program is located at Lincoln Elementary.

Luna said Lincoln Elementary, built in 1940, has gotten too old to update to current standards.

“We can’t spend taxpayers’ money to bring it up to where it should be,” he said, citing structural, foundation and drainage problems at the school. A temporary school annex is not handicapped accessible, he said. The school also does not have a kitchen. Breakfasts and lunches must be brought in from another school.

Bates said the district does not plan to do away with the old Lincoln building, which he said the teachers love. He said it could be used for adult education or other programs.

“It will still be useful for us and to the community,” he said.

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