ENID, Okla. — The Enid Plainsmen basketball teams are one step closer to getting their gym.
Enid Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to place a multimillion dollar bond for improvements, renovations and new construction on the February ballot.
The $92.8 million bond will go toward improvements across the district, including safety and security additions at each campus, new playground equipment and safety surfacing at elementary schools, classroom additions at several campuses, a performing arts addition at Enid High School and a 2,500-seat competition gym.
Almost 200 people crowded into the board room at the EPS Administrative Services Center Monday night for the special board meeting to see how the board would vote.
EPS Superintendent Darrell Floyd said the evening was a culmination of a lot of work.
“Many months of planning and preparation, many months of gathering input from across the community — school people and community people,” he said. “A long process of input that helped us put our long range strategic plan together, and one part of that is facilities, and that’s what we are here to talk about.”
The bond package has gone through several revisions, he said, starting at more than $80 million and whittling down to $56 million. The $92.8 million figure includes construction costs and fees and interest for the bonds.
“Legally, we have to roll everything together, interest and fees, and that’s the number that goes on the ballot,” he said. “We are down to what we consider the bare necessities, which is really the second step of a long range facility plan for the district.”
The district passed a multimillion dollar bond in 2010 that built new schools and renovated campuses, Floyd said, and now the district is in stage two.
The state of Oklahoma requires schools to separate bond money allotted for transportation costs into a separate ballot issue, so the board voted on two propositions: Proposition One, $90.23 million for renovations, improvements and new construction; and Proposition Two, $2,565,000 to replace part of an aging bus fleet.
Both motions passed unanimously and received cheers and a standing ovation from the audience.
Board President Ernie Currier thanked the audience for their exuberant support and encouraged them to vote because school bonds require a 60 percent majority to pass instead of 51 percent.
“When we tell you to get out and vote, it’s absolutely critical,” he said. “It sounds like the majority of people want this, but we don’t get it unless we get 60 percent of the vote.”
Audience member Yvonne Lewis-Odor said she is excited the board voted for the bond.
“This is very important,” she said. “I think, up until recently, other school districts were developing their districts … and we go here and we see we are way, way, way far behind. It’s not only sad, it’s embarrassing. We don’t give our students anything and then we expect them to come back and do something.”
That’s not how it works, she said.
“We don’t give them anything, we don’t show them we care enough to put money into anything, and when they graduate, they go and we don’t ever get them back,” she said. “We should have a gym that has banners in it. We should have schools that have facilities where they can have different functions, and be proud of them. There’s no self-pride here because there’s nothing to be proud of.”
Head basketball coach Kyle Hilterbran said the bond will help everyone, not just athletic teams.
“I’m happy for everyone, not just the basketball teams,” he said “I’m happy for the rest of the teams. I’m happy for band, the choir, the pom team, and all the other schools that will get something out of this. It’s not just the gym, even though that is awesome. I’m happy for everybody. This is going to help everyone.”
Floyd said passing this bond issue is the right thing for students.
“I think it’s the right thing to do for kids now and in the future, and we know we will continue to grow,” he said. “We have to be proactive rather than reactive, and that’s what tonight was all about.”
Enid residents will get to vote on the bond on Feb. 9; early voting is Feb. 4-5. For more information, go to www.enidpub licschools.org/projects.