MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 25, 2013

Hilldale seeks $7.4M bond issue

Funds for traffic, classrooms, cafeteria, restrooms

— Tina Marlnee makes sure she comes to pick up her daughter at Hilldale Elementary School at least a half hour before school lets out.

Otherwise, there would be a long line of parents in cars reaching to Cherokee Drive waiting to pick up their kids, she said. Hers was the first of a long line of cars that U-turned in the school’s tiny parking lot, then trailed along Peak Boulevard’s south access road.

“Sometimes cars are backed up to the Hilldale gas station,” she said, referring to a convenience store on Smith Ferry Road, one mile south of the school.

A proposed $7.4 million bond issue for Hilldale Public Schools could ease the congestion by funding added parking and a second parking lot entrance.

Hilldale voters are to decide on the bond issue March 5. Projects included in the bond issue:

• New cafeterias with larger kitchens at the elementary, middle school and high schools.

• Two new classrooms and restrooms at the middle school.

• A new high school/middle school band room.

• A new elementary school parking lot with expanded pick-up and drop-off lanes.

The bond issue would increase property taxes in the Hilldale School district by 14 .48 mills, or 19.21 percent. That results in a tax increase of $19.21 for every $100 a person pays in taxes, according to figures from the Stephen L. Smith Corp. A homeowner paying $700 in taxes would pay $834; a homeowner paying $1,000 in taxes would pay $1,192.

“If we are going to keep our property values up, we have to keep developing our school,” said Hilldale Assistant Superintendent Erik Puckett.

The added parking at the elementary school would extend south of Wesley United Methodist Church, adjacent to the school. The added parking would open up a second entrance on Peak. That could make traffic flow safer and ease the time parents and kids have to wait for pick-up after school, Puckett said.

Hilldale also needs more cafeteria and kitchen space at all schools, Puckett said.

“We now have one food serving line at the high school, one at the middle school and two at the elementary school,” he said. “We hope to add at least two serving lines at each site.

One small kitchen serves two cafeterias at the high school/middle school building, Barber said. The kitchen opens to the high school cafeteria, an open area between two hallways.

“With the cafeteria traffic, it gets loud for our classrooms,” Puckett said.

The middle school cafeteria is in another part of the building.

“We have to transfer breakfasts and lunches each day to the middle school cafeteria, said Donna Barber, cafeteria manager.

Plans in the bond issue call for a kitchen twice the size as the current one. A high school cafeteria would open to the south, and a middle school cafeteria would open to the east.

The elementary kitchen is only half as big as the high school kitchen, Barber said, adding that six people must work in a confined space.

She said the kitchen is so small, many portable kitchen units are “stored” in the cafeteria, blocking a stage. They are moved into the hall during assemblies.

Puckett said the elementary cafeteria has a seating capacity of 130 to 140. The combined upper and lower elementary has an enrollment of 900 kids.

“At the elementary school, we have to start serving at 10:45 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m.,” Barber said. “The kids are rushed during lunch because there is not enough seating.”

The bond issue also could fund two new classrooms and two larger restrooms at the middle school.

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

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