MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 27, 2014

Eufaula schools seek $13.48M bond

Voters go to polls Tuesday

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— EUFAULA — Boys’ basketball coach Bradley Campbell says the caged lockers he used in high school are the same ones the Ironheads use today.

Eufaula High School needs a larger, more up-to-date gym to remain competitive with schools its size, Campbell said.

A 28,500-square-foot gym is one of 10 projects included in a $13.48 million bond issue facing Eufaula Public Schools voters on Tuesday. Other major projects include expansion of the agriculture education center and a new auditorium/physical education gym at the elementary school.

Eufaula School Superintendent Jeanette Smith said the bond issue would raise the district’s ad valorem property tax rate by $14.41 for every $100 of property taxes paid. A $700 tax bill would go up to $800.87, according to a chart in a bond brochure.

Campbell said the current gym is 50 years old and has had few improvements since it was built.

“Some of the things like our locker room, the shower facilities are not very good,” he said. “Our facilities, as far as having to host other tournaments, are outdated.”

He said most of the schools around Eufaula have improved their gyms or built new ones. He listed Checotah, Beggs, Henryetta and Spiro as examples.

A new gym also would improve class and practice scheduling, he said.

“One of our class periods, we share with two or three other classes,” he said. “It’s hard to have off-season basketball boys and girls sharing the same gym when I have cross-country, cheerleading and off-season baseball when school starts.”

Even during basketball season, the boys’ and girls’ teams must alternate practicing in the high school gym and the middle school gym, he said.

The proposed new event center would include seating for 1,300 and would feature an upper-level walking track, classrooms and updated locker rooms, Smith said. The new gym also could be used as a community storm shelter, she said.

The bond issue also includes expansion of the agriculture education center to include livestock preparation and show areas and technical instruction space, according to promotional material.

The elementary school needs a new gym/auditorium, Smith said. The current elementary gym is only 2,000 square feet and must serve 600 kids, she said. The new gym also could have a stage and a synthetic multipurpose floor.

The bond issue also would pay for new technology including wireless capability at the elementary and high schools, plus tablet computers for teachers, Smith said.

About $75,000 of the bond issue could help fund new band uniforms and instruments. Head band director Tad Clark said some instruments are in poor condition. For example, a baritone horn used in marching is taped and dented, he said. The band also needs “specialty” instruments such as oboes, bassoons, contrabass clarinets and bass trombones, he said.

Clark said the band uniforms are about eight years old.

“Rain gets on them, kids sweat in them,” he said, adding that the uniforms need dry cleaning. Clark said new uniforms would be machine-washable, saving the school about $2,000 a year in dry cleaning.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee phoenix.com.