STERLING, OK (KSWO) -A $2 million bond for Sterling Public Schools is being brought up for a vote in Tuesday's election, and schools officials say the improvements it will pay for are a long time coming.
The bond, which will increase property taxes by 10 percent, will bring renovations to the auditorium, but most of the improvements will be at the community center, which is part of their campus. The bond would allow them to bring the 40-year-old building into the 21st century and add classrooms.
The kids have P.E. in the gym, residents can rent out the kitchen and meeting area for events and there is a workout room for junior high and high school athletes in the community center, but now school officials want to add classrooms to the mix.
It's all to bring the kids back into the building. Preschoolers are learning in portables outside, and that has been happening for about 15 years.
The bond will allow the school to add on and build two new classrooms and get rid of those portables for good.
"Over here we are just kind of by ourselves," said Sterling kindergarten teacher Julie Sanders.
Sanders used to teach in the portables on the school's campus for many years.
"So, I know what it's like. And being over in the building, it's awesome. You know, you're a whole, you're in school now," Sanders said.
School officials put the two preschool classrooms on the long list of things to improve at the community center. Sterling Elementary School Principal Sandy Fehring says having the kids out in the portables is inconvenient and not as safe as keeping them in the building.
"Right now, anytime we do drills or we do any bad weather, those Pre-Kers go into the superintendent's office. So she gets to visit with the 40 Pre-Kers in her office," Fehring explained.
Even though the community center is part of the school, it's still used for its original purpose of serving the residents of Sterling if they need a large venue for meetings or a dip in the pool. Floors, ceilings, doors and windows, all largely untouched since its construction, are all slated to be replaced.
Sterling High School Principal Marty Curry says he and school officials fear if these renovations don't happen, it could get so bad that no amount of construction could fix the aging building.
"I've been coming to that building for over 40 years. So it's been a big part of this community, so it's important to keep that up. Like I said, the school and community are kind of hand in hand, one in one. They support each other," Curry said.
Something school officials took out of the bond issue because the cost was too high was a large safe room. But it's not something they aren't still planning to build. They are looking into different FEMA grants that could cover up to 60 percent of the cost it would take to construct the safe room.
Another school bond issue in Southwest Oklahoma up for a vote on Tuesday is in Big Pastures. They have two bond issues totaling $440,000. The money will be used to buy a few new buses, fix the high school's leaking roof and improve technology in the classroom.
You can learn more about these bond proposals and other April 5 elections here.