, Muskogee, OK

May 5, 2013

New construction much of bond

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— New construction and remodeling comprise about 24 percent of Muskogee Public Schools’ proposed bond issue.

There will be new construction at Alice Robertson Junior High, an indoor practice facility at the high school, and many upgrades to existing classrooms if voters approve the $47.5 million bond issue on May 14.

At the high school, a new building next to the agricultural barn will house vocational programs and industrial arts, Superintendent Mike Garde said.

“One of our goals is to expand the vocational arts programs for our students as funding allows,” he said. “We hope to be able to add more programs in the future, and this will allow us to have the space to do so.”

At the junior high, a new science and math center will be built on the southwest corner of the campus.

The high-technology building will include solar panels and a “green” geothermal system. And those items are not just to save the district money and protect the environment, Garde said.

“The solar and geothermal systems will be open to view for the students to study,” Garde said. “We’re trying to integrate things here that will help them learn about going green.”

The new science and math building will help with classroom space, as well, he said.

“We currently have classes in the basement, and we’re just going to stop using that space,” Garde said. “They struggle with a sewage odor and flooding in those rooms sometimes.”

At Sadler Arts Academy, dance students will get a place to practice other than the foyer on pads thrown down on concrete floors, and the library will get a big expansion.

Currently, the library is in three narrow classrooms at the front of the school.

The existing gym at Sadler isn’t in use. It’s the original Manual Training High School gym, and the district wants to preserve its heritage while using the space well, Garde said.

“We’re going to turn the gym into a library and a dance practice area,” Garde said. “We want to keep that historical perspective though, so we’ll do that by turning part into a modern fine arts area, keeping the original bleachers for reading space, and another part as a dance studio, also with the original bleachers.”

The former library space could be used for more classrooms in the future, Garde said.

Rougher Alternative Academy will also see new construction with a separate building for the school’s Regimented School, which will allow the school to go from serving 10 students to 25, Garde said.

For athletes, the district will build an indoor playing field with an open 150-foot by 150-foot dirt area covered with turf and the ability to be sectioned into four sections so soccer could be practicing inside in one area, softball in another, cheerleading or whichever is needed, Garde said.

There will be four locker rooms and a weight room. The trainer will have an office, and the coaches will have assigned storage spaces.

“And we also really wanted to address the baseball facilities. The existing concessions and bathrooms are just horrendous,” Garde said.

The bond issue also provides for improvements at the high school baseball and softball fields.

“The bleachers were so deteriorated we took them out and put up temporary bleachers,” Garde said. “Both baseball and softball will get new concession stands, new bathrooms, new press boxes and a shared entrance. So, it will make it into a very nice complex.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or