NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Oklahoma City area schools seek bond approvals Tuesday to address rapid growth

Several central Oklahoma school districts are asking voters to approve bond issues in Tuesday's election.

Those propositions are among several matters voters will see on the ballot.

Deer Creek school voters will see a bond package totaling $175 million, including $169.395 million in construction bonds and $5.65 million in transportation bonds. If approved, the bond issue would fund a slate of construction projects, including two new elementary schools and an addition at Deer Creek Middle School.

Deer Creek Superintendent Ranet Tippens said those construction projects will help the district keep up with rapid enrollment. The district's enrollment has been growing by about 300 students per year, mostly from families moving into the district, Tippens said.

"That's a new school building every three years," Tippens said.

The district's five-year-old middle school is already over capacity, Tippens said. District officials hope to add a second story to the school, which Tippens said will alleviate overcrowding.

Because the district is growing so rapidly, Tippens said district officials think the bond issue could be implemented without raising property taxes. At most, she said, residents could see a 1 percent increase.

In the Piedmont school district, voters will be asked to approve a $71.69 million bond package, including $70.69 million in construction bonds and $1 million in transportation bonds.

Like Deer Creek, Piedmont has seen rapid enrollment growth over the past decade, said district Superintendent James White. The last bond issue district voters passed was in 2010. Since then, the district's enrollment has grown by about 40 percent, he said.

That rapid growth has put a strain on elementary school buildings, where the district has had to bring in portable classroom units to cope with growth. White said he expects those capacity issues to spread to Piedmont High School as large elementary school classes work their way into the upper grades.

If approved, money from the bond issue would go to fund the construction of a new Early Childhood Center, which would house the district's pre-K and kindergarten classes. It would also go toward building additions at Piedmont High School and Northwood Elementary School and a new gym at Piedmont Elementary School that would also serve as a storm shelter, among other projects.

White said he expects the bond issue would raise property taxes in the district by about 3.9 percent.

In Tecumseh, voters will be asked to approve a $12.395 million bond issue for district construction projects, including a new early childhood center.

In Guthrie, voters will decide whether sewer and water rate increases should be approved by voters before being enacted. Those changes currently only require approval from the Guthrie City Council.

Silas Allen

Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri. Read more ›