Home > Guthrie Public Schools, Money > Approved school bond would address old building needs

Approved school bond would address old building needs

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In November, voters will decide on a school bond for capital improvements within the Guthrie Public School district. Three school buildings and technology will be the primary targets for improvements.

Students at Guthrie Upper Elementary learn the fundamentals on gas and oil through science. Photo By Chris Evans

Students at Guthrie Upper Elementary learn the fundamentals on gas and oil through science. Photo By Chris Evans

If approved by voters on Nov. 4 by a supermajority (60 percent), the $2.4 million bond issue would be spread out over 24 months through property taxes within the school district’s boundaries.

“We have prioritized the needs of our current facilities and hope to address the most significant deficiencies in the district with this issue,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson said.

Recently, Chris Evans sat down with Simpson and discussed the outline of the bond issue.

The projects identified include roofs for Central, Fogarty and Guthrie Upper Elementary School.  Estimates for the roofs alone total over $1.4 million. Additional work at Central (built in 1929 with an addition added in 2006) would include new energy efficient windows as well as tuck-pointing (repair and restoration) of the exterior brick and replacement of the heating and air conditioning units, which are 18 years old. The windows are believed to have been last replaced sometime in the 1970’s and the heating and A/C units last installed in 1996. The total cost of the Central school location would be an estimated $682,000.

Fogarty’s price tag comes in at an estimated $360,000 to replace the roof for the 77-year-old building. The last time the main portion of the roof was replaced was in 1996.

Cotteral SchoolFor Guthrie Upper Elementary, built in 1989, the estimated cost to replace the original roof is estimated at $945,000.

An estimated $300,000 would go toward technology with the goal of issuing each teacher in the school district with a laptop.

“Currently, all teachers have a desktop computer and any use of technology for planning, grading or posting of assignments must be at school or teachers must use their personal computer if working elsewhere,” Simpson said. “The vast majority of computers used by teachers and students in Guthrie Public Schools are purchased from Edmond Public Schools when they have deemed them obsolete for their students and staff after five years of use.”

The final portion of the bond covers the repair of the high school track. The seven-lane track, used by junior high and high school students and community members, was completely resurfaced in 2005. The repair cost is estimated at $75,000.

SchoolA final estimate cost of $37,700 is set aside for fees and contingency.

“This bond issue still follows the priorities of recommendations made by the Long Range Planning Committee based on the funds available. While the top priority identified was an elementary school in the southern portion of the school district, land has yet to be purchased which could support such construction,” Simpson said.

Cost of the proposed approved school bond for homeowners

Simpson says this bond issue identifies a starting point addressing some of the most urgent issues with current facilities. The impact to homeowners would be $16.64 per month for property assessed at $100,000. For a house assessed at $150,000, it is estimated to increase taxes $25.80 per month or just under $310 a year.

“This is less than the tax paid by property owners inside the GPS district boundary in 2007 when the Jelsma Stadium Bond Issue was passed,” Simpson said.

Recent bond issue proposals

Feb. 2005     $4.855 million     Passed 63.9%
Feb. 2005     $655,000            Failed 53.2%
March 2007  $16.865 million   Failed 49.8%
Oct. 2007      $31.3 million      Failed 23.8%
Dec. 2008     $9.25 million      Failed 55.9%
April 2009     $5.835 million    Failed 57.4%
August 2010 $89.745 million  Failed 22%

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  1. September 24, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Curious about the laptops for teachers. With all the student information being on those laptops what kind of security will be on them and who controls that security if a laptop is stolen?

  2. September 24, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I agree with John Cook. Not only does the security issue bother me, if they are to be used so that the teachers can take them home, then why not just set up a secure virtual network so the teachers can log in and “telework”. The govt does this.

  3. September 25, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Britt, you hit the nail on the head. The other issue is laptops are more support-intensive for IT departments generally. However, I would think a secure web portal for doing grades, etc may be even more appropriate, since VPN client solutions will not be guaranteed to work properly on all home systems and may be another support headache waiting to happen.

  4. September 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I also wonder what GPS’ building Fund looks like, that they are asking to borrow 2.4M to do capital repairs that one would normally think should be paid out of existing allocation? I’m not saying they are wrong to do so, but to ask to borrow that kind of money and not give the resons why or say “because our existing building fund fell short because of X, Y and Z” makes it seem like they aren’t being up front.

  5. September 26, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Found some more info on the budgets:

    http://www.guthrie.k12.ok.us/cms/lib3/OK01000900/Centricity/Domain/6/Estimate%20of%20Needs.pdf

    Seems there is a rather large carryover of money not spent last year? So why do we need to borrow more?

  6. September 26, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Jay Norton – The general fund is used for normal operation of the school district. By law, General Fund dollars cannot be used to fund major capitol projects.

    The building fund from 2010-2014 has totaled $3,003,284. $275,000 is spent annually on routine maintenance costs and the remaining toward equipment needs, major repairs, etc. I will have more information on that aspect hopefully here soon. It’s been a hectic week.

    Not real sure on the question about the laptops. I will look to get the school’s stance behind that as well.

    • September 26, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Thanks for replying, Chris. i was specifically referring to the 710K carried over in the building fund itself, which is larger than the carryover from the previous year, hence my question of why we are choosing to go the “borrow” route instead of a more pay as we go route.

  7. September 30, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I got a response from Dennis Schulz (Asst. Supt.) and he says they begin to receive property tax collections until nearly halfway through each fiscal year (December), and need to carry a substantial balance into each new year in July to provide cash flow until these taxes are received.

    He went on to say, in consideration of the age of the facilities, they have to reserve funds as a safety net for any large emergency repairs or replacements to the buildings or equipment. He says they generally spend the equivalent to what is collected each year.

  8. October 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

    In response to laptops, I have learned that student information such as grades are stored on a secure server (much like most school districts). The laptop security will allow it to be disabled and located, if stolen.

    Security has been in place for student information and has been a point of emphasis due to the age of the current computers which are hand-me-downs from Edmond Public Schools.

    • October 1, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      As for the laptops, was this a request that came from the IT department, or the teachers? I am mostly kidding, but I seriously would want them to consider the ongoing support costs, not just in $$$ but in man-hours, and whether said support is going to be available after hours when the teachers are likely to need it most. The investment in technology and ongoing support should be weighed against the benefits, bot tangible and intangible to the District “mission”.

      I would also ask how they plan on mitigating possible FERPA issues. I know you did mention the secure server, but will teachers not need to access that information from home? If they do, then the data is potentially stored on the laptop, if not in web-browser cache, then it’s always possible for a teacher’s notes to include FERPA (or even Privacy Act) protected information. If there is not a comprehensive whole-disk encryption solution being used, the District may open themselves up to liability if a laptop was stolen. Basically, data in transit should be encrypted, as well as at it’s destination, i.e. the laptop I know this is all worst-case scenario stuff, I just am throwing it out there.

  9. October 6, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Here is some more information I have come across.

    The district has been using an online student information system and gradebook for the last 5 years. The software is hosted in a secure environment and available to teachers and parents anywhere they have Internet access. Previously parent access has been limited to grades 4-12. This year the school district is beginning the implementation at the lower grades. The student information system is built with the same technology that banks use to provide their customers online banking services.

    Laptops were requested by the IT department because they believe that the first step in improving the technology in the district is providing teachers with a modern computer. A large portion of the curriculum is online and in a digital format and a laptop allows the teacher to work anywhere. Teachers need to be able to access these resources and create the best lessons for their students. The laptops will come with a 5 year warranty and the district believes that the support required for the laptops will not be any more labor intensive than what is required to keep the 5 year old Edmond computers running. The district is using a Mobile Device Management tool which will allow them to remotely wipe a device should it be lost or stolen.

    • October 7, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Thanks again Chris, that’s good to know. Still would *highly* recommend they look into implementing the built-in Windows whole disk encryption if nothing else, to help protect against data loss and also it may check a few boxes in the “due diligence” department.

  10. November 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Sure sounds like a lot of money to pay for laptops that only need to open a web browser and do data entry.

    How many full-time teachers are there?
    Is additional software being purchased, and if so, does every teacher need that software or is there a free alternative that most can use such as Open Office in place of MS Office?

  1. September 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm

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