THEN and NOW!

Article 1 of a series of articles written by Dr. Sjoberg on “The Future of Facilities” for students in the Poteau Public Schools.

Dr. Don Sjoberg, Superintendent of Poteau Schools

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The Poteau school district is asking voters to support a millage increase of 4.70 mills, equivalent to a 5.5% property tax increase, so that new classroom buildings can be constructed.  

Do you remember the last time Poteau voters approved any substantial millage increase to allow facilities to be built for students?  It was almost 30 years ago, and the millage increased from 9.8 to 20 mills, an increase of 10.2 mills.

Why would the Poteau community vote for such a tax increase?   They did it because they saw that the current buildings were not enough to house the approximately 1,800 students who were enrolled.  Enrollment had grown from 1,700 in 1980 to 1,850 in less than a decade. Quality facilities were needed to provide the best possible climate for students to learn and teachers to teach in.  

If this past scenario of nearly 30 years ago sounds familiar, it should!  It is exactly where the Poteau schools stand today, … with one exception—those buildings that DID exist THEN, are NOW 30 years older and increasingly showing signs of wear and tear…  (examples include the High School hallway that flooded in 2017, air conditioners having to be replaced at various sites, the roof on the Kidd Center having to be replaced…) and enrollment has grown to 2300+, 450 more students than were enrolled in 1990.  If facilities were needed THEN, they certainly are needed NOW.

So here we are, 30 years later, facing crowded hallways and building deterioration.  As in 1990, are there enough “forward thinkers” who are willing to make a financial sacrifice to provide better facilities for the future leaders of our community and state?  I think so. On August 28th, there were 914 voters who came to the polls and voted YES to increase the number of mills by 4.71 (5.5% tax increase) for the sake of kids.  If you were one of the 914, I “thank you” and ask that you commit NOW to voting again on January 8th.       

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“Then and Now!” is an editorial submitted to the Pirate Log.  Any editorial submitted to the Pirate Log staff is not a reflection of the views and opinions of the staff or its sponsors.  Anyone may submit an article to the editor by emailing Noah Sweet at [email protected]

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