Konawa bond issue vote set for Feb. 13

Konawa Public Schools Superintendent Andy Gower discusses problems with seating in the school gymnasium Dec. 14. If voters approve two bond issues totaling $1.5 million in February, the district would use part of the proceeds from one of the bond issues to replace the upholstered seats in the lower section of the gym.

People who live within the Konawa school district will vote on two separate bond issues totaling $1.5 million in February.

The Konawa Board of Education voted earlier this week to put the propositions — a $700,000 transportation bond issue and an $800,000 general bond issue for technology upgrades and other projects — on the Feb. 13 ballot. The new bond issues would replace an existing bond issue, which means the district would not have to raise taxes to pay off the new bonds.

If voters approve both initiatives, the school district would use the proceeds from the transportation bond issue to purchase five new route buses and an activity bus, Superintendent Andy Gower said Thursday.

“We have two activity buses. We like them and are proud of them, and we’re going to keep them,” he said. “But they’re 2004, 2005 models. So we’re certainly going to keep them, but we would like to add one activity bus to our fleet.”

Proceeds from the second bond issue would pay for the following projects:

• Upgrading technology and textbooks, especially digital textbooks.

• Improving security throughout the district, including more secure entrances and security cameras.

• Replacing the flooring at the elementary school.

• Replacing the upholstered seats in the lower section of the gym.

• Extending the bus barn a few feet to the east to accommodate larger-capacity buses in the end.

• Buying a small tractor with a front-end loader and a backhoe attachment and a mower or two to help maintain Konawa’s 40-acre campus.

• Adding a new Suburban to the transportation fleet for students and faculty attending conferences and school activities. The Suburban is part of the general bond issue, not the transportation initiative, because vehicles purchased with proceeds from a transportation bond issue should only be used for student transportation.

Gower said district officials thought long and hard before putting the bond issue proposals on the ballot.

“We just feel very strongly that we’re not asking for excess,” he said. “We’re just asking for our patrons to help us take care of what we already have, and we’re proud of that.”

The new bond issues would replace an existing bond, which means the district will not have to raise property taxes to pay off the new bonds.

He said patrons of the Konawa school district have backed district initiatives in the past, and he thought they would approve the new bond issues.

“Our people have always supported our school, and they’ve always supported our bond issues,” he said. “You would have to go back a long time in the history of Konawa schools to find a bond issue that did not pass.

“There are two reasons for that: Our patrons understand that our school is our community, and they also understand that with our favorable ad valorem tax base, we get a good bang for our buck when we vote upon an issue.”

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.