A History of Poteau School Bond Projects since 2014

Article 2 in the series “The Future of Facilities”

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A History of Poteau School Bond Projects since 2014

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Share your letters to the editor by e-mailing [email protected]

Share your letters to the editor by e-mailing [email protected]

Dr. Don Sjoberg, Superintendent of Poteau Schools

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A bond issue vote is around the corner!  How did we get to this point and why?

In February of 2014, voters defeated a bond issue proposal that would have purchased land for a new high school south of town, in large part because of an interest in keeping the high school (and any new construction) at its current location.  

In the fall of 2014, there was an interest expressed by members of the community to put artificial turf on the football field.  This idea was pursued because it would allow the district to use the “new” field for football practice as well as marching band practice, thereby freeing up the current practice field and parking lot for future growth.  

In February of 2015, a bond proposal of $975,000 was approved by the voters.  A portion of that bond proposal went toward the purchase of the artificial turf ($175,000) as promised to the community before the bond vote.  The rest of the cost was covered by local businesses through field and sideline sponsorships ($300,000) and the district building fund.

The remaining funds of the approved bond ($800,000) were used to complete many projects, ranging from district-wide security and technology improvements to the installation of flooring at the Primary, Upper Elementary and high school band and chorale rooms, nearly all of which were completed (thanks to a dedicated summer maintenance and custodial staff) by the beginning of school in August.    

After the installation of the artificial turf opened up land that could be used for growth, the board then began to plan ways to better utilize the property for future growth.  Tracts of land on Craigway and Beeler were purchased to provide future entrances and exits to the campus. Plans were also made to study community interest in future construction.  In the spring of 2017, results from a survey identified 4 priorities and a Facilities Improvement Team from the community was convened to discuss whether to approach the priorities one project at a time or all at once.  It was recommended that all of the priorities be put on one bond proposal. The proposal was submitted to the Board of Education and was adopted as part of the long-term Capital Improvement Plan at the May 8th, 2017 meeting.

There have been 3 bond proposals since May of 2017 which have included a tax increase to support the construction of new buildings.  Each proposal failed to meet the very high threshold of the required supermajority of 60%. Each time, based on community feedback, the size of the projects was reduced by separating the improvements into phases.  It was clear that academic buildings needed to be the priority and later phases would include improved facilities for performing arts, FFA, and athletics.

Since 2014, the capital improvement planning has consisted of this:  Make the best use of the current land for construction, and plan to build with the future in mind!

I appreciate the dedication of our school board members and the care they have taken to find the balance between accountability to the taxpayer and responsibility to our students to provide quality facilities and instruction.  They have a tremendous responsibility and they take it seriously.

For more articles in the series, click here.

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