Community forum set to discuss potential bond issue and identify items for resolution
Broken Arrow Public Schools’ long-range planning committee, made up of nearly 60 community stakeholders, parents and employees, recently wrapped up its meetings to discuss enrollment growth as well as current and future district needs. The needs discussed included security and safety enhancements, building upgrades to roofs and HVAC systems, updated technology, transportation improvements, and more.
“It’s important to engage the community as we continue making important decisions that impact our district,” Broken Arrow Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Perry said. “During these long-range planning committee meetings, district leaders presented information and data about various district needs and then sought input from the committee about what they feel is best for our kids.”
The long-range planning committee was tasked with debating district needs in light of rapid enrollment growth, and then putting pencil to paper in coming up with a plan for a potential bond issue to be considered later this fall.
“Our district’s rapid growth and the increased valuation in both Tulsa and Wagoner Counties has created an opportunity for a small general obligation bond that would take care of some of our most pressing needs,” Perry said. “We estimate a bond of approximately $50 million will be possible later this fall, and we asked the members of the long-range planning committee to evaluate the list of needs and give us recommendations on what items could be included on that bond.”
Safety, security and technology were some of the top items discussed by the committee, as was the possibility of a transportation terminal in the southern end of Broken Arrow. This terminal would enable the district to make adjustments to its bell schedules so that elementary schools could begin their day earlier.
“This will be a back-to-basics bond issue designed to meet some of our most pressing infrastructure needs on a short timetable,” Perry said. “It will also enable us to bring two important topics from the 2015 bond back to the public for consideration, specifically elementary #17 and the location of the pool.”
Patrons are likely aware of the city’s plan to build the Elam Park complex behind Aspen Creek Elementary. One of the features of this park is an aquatic center, leading school and city officials to discuss the possibility of a collaborative effort.
“Right now the pool is planned to be built at the Kirkland Activities Complex, per the language of the bond issue,” Perry said. “If we could deliver that same project on-time and on-budget in partnership with the City of Broken Arrow, we believe it would be a win for the entire community instead of a duplication of efforts and resources. But we need to ask the voters their permission to consider that relocation.”
A third question on this potential bond issue would be the fate of elementary #17, which was included in the 2015 bond issue. Instead of constructing a new facility, district leaders are proposing adding classroom pods to a few of the existing, newer elementary schools.
“Construction costs are at an all-time high, and we are gaining 500 students every year,” Perry said. “We need more classroom space yesterday, and this plan would allow us to add space for more than 500 students at sites that already have the infrastructure to support the additional enrollment. We believe this to be a better, more efficient use of taxpayer dollars than another new stand-alone elementary school, but again, we want the voters to decide.”
With so much to consider, the long-range planning committee developed several lists of potential bond items ranked by importance, and these lists will be presented to the public at a community forum at 6 p.m. on May 11 in the Broken Arrow High School media center. The event will also be live streamed via the district’s YouTube Channel and Facebook page.
“I hope anyone who has an interest in learning more about possible future projects will join us at the upcoming forum,” Perry said. “The best is yet to come for Broken Arrow Public Schools, and I’m excited to hear what our patrons feel is in the best interest of every Broken Arrow student."
Public feedback will be gathered during the forum and presented to the Board of Education this summer as they decide whether or not to take action on calling for a bond election in the fall of 2023.