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LPS: Bond money needed for roofing, HVAC repairs

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LAWTON, Okla._ Concern is mounting over much needed renovation projects throughout the Lawton Public Schools that have been put on hold due to a lack of funding.  That's one of the driving forces behind next month's $30 million bond election.

Of the $30 million, $10 million will be used for building repairs district-wide, mainly for heating and air conditioning and roofing repairs, like at McArthur Middle School.

"We identified in 2009, 23 water leaks in this building," says Mark Mattingly, principal at McArthur Middle, where he says over the past five years the roof's condition has only worsened.

Superintendent Tom Deighan estimates it would cost upwards of $25 million to fulfill all their current needs. This bond would allocate $10 million, which he says is not enough, but it is a good start.

"My hope is that we can show the community good progress (and) good results," says Deighan.

Hugh Bish Elementary is one of those schools in need of improvement, where he says a new HVAC system is an immediate concern.  

"In the winter we are freezing, chattering ... in the summertime, you feel like you can't get cool enough," says Adalia Kamaunu, a second grade teacher at the school. "Nobody wants to work in an environment or learn in an environment that they are not comfortable in."

At McArthur Middle, the water continues to seep through the roof: "You could spend a hundred dollars replacing ceiling tiles just in (one) room every time it rains," says Mattingly.

A new roof will cost the district about $1.5 million. If the bond money is approved, it's one of the first projects on the district's list. That is welcome news to Mattingly.

"Not only are we having to replace ceiling tiles, we're losing textbooks, we may lose science equipment, (even) a computer," says Mattingly.

Lawtonians will vote on two proposals on April 1. The first is a $22 million bond for these building improvements, as well as technology upgrades. Another proposal for roughly $8 million will go toward purchasing new buses. Each must pass with a super majority of at least 60 percent of the vote to be approved. 

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