MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 6, 2013

Two districts’ proposals meet opposite outcomes

— Voters overwhelmingly approved a $1.3 million bond proposition that will help Midway Public Schools build a new elementary school, the district’s first new classrooms to be constructed since 1954.

In Cherokee County, voters put the brakes on Briggs Public Schools’ plans to build an elementary school. The district’s first bond proposition failed by a ratio of more than 2-1.

Midway Schools officials, who saw two bond propositions defeated in 2012, were ecstatic about the outcome of Tuesday’s special election.

Superintendent John Truesdell said passage of the proposition “is a good, positive thing for Midway” and the needed improvements were long overdue.

“I think it really was a combination of a lot of hard work by our bond committee and my principal,” Truesdell said as the final votes were tallied. “They were the ones who did the work, got the people behind it, and put us in a position to move our district forward.”

Proceeds from the $1.3 million bond issue will be used to construct a new elementary school with eight classrooms, a principal’s office and a work room for teachers.

The current elementary school is nearly 60 years old and in need of numerous repairs. Truesdell said with the exception of the portable buildings at the high school, the district has not built a new school since 1954.

Midway Principal Randy Shaw commended Truesdell’s leadership and the teachers’ ability to drum up support. The results — a 257-102 vote, or 71.6 percent, victory — reflected those efforts.

“You could look around last week and see people going out to talk to these voters, and it just steamrolled from there,” Shaw said.

The bond will cost property owners within the Midway district an extra $12.63 for every $100 they pay annually for ad valorem taxes.

For example, a property owner whose annual tax bill totals $1,000 will pay $1,126 a year.

Truesdell and Shaw said they plan on being able to move students into the new elementary school by Christmas.

Briggs Superintendent Steve Haynes said he and others were disappointed with the outcome of its special elections.

Voters rejected a $1.85 million issue bond that would have been used to build a new elementary school, with 68.9 percent of the 151 ballots cast in opposition.

The elementary school is across a county road from the cafeteria, which poses a safety risk.

Students and school employees also deal with low water pressure, small classrooms, narrow halls, sloping floors and the occasional foul odor.

Haynes said the economy may have had something to do with the outcome. The bond issue would have cost property owners within the district an extra $24.95 for every $100 paid in annual ad valorem taxes.

Haynes vowed to try to win support for an alternate package soon.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

Bond election results

Briggs district

For  — 47 or 31.1 percent.

Against  — 104 or 68.9 percent.

Midway district

For   —  257 or 71.6 percent.

Against   —  102 or  28.4 percent.

Source: Oklahoma State Election Board

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