LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The Lawton Public School board has voted in favor of a $99.5 million school bond. The proposal will be up for a vote this November.
About half of that money, $46 million, will be used to tear down Eisenhower Middle School and build a new building in its place, something the district has talked about doing for years. The rest of the money will be spread out across the district, focusing on upgrades like adding safe rooms, furniture and new technology.
Lawton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Deighan said this bond proposal would allow students and staff to take a huge leap forward.
"It's important that the students in our district and the teachers in our district have the same advantages as other districts. I've been in Lawton for four years now, I've fallen in love with Lawton, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I know we have the best staff and best students in the world. It's time we give them the best we can give them," Deighan said.
After the Eisenhower Middle School project, there will be about $53 million for the rest of the district, $14.5 million of which Deighan said will be used to build safe rooms at the schools where they're needed.
"In Oklahoma, especially if you come from another state the idea of tornado shelters is just a critical issue," Deighan said. "These are actual safe rooms. We have an entire team come in that investigated and surveyed each one of the sites in the district over the last year or so and made determinations on which ones needed safe rooms."
Deighan said $12.5 million will be used to purchase items used in the classroom.
"For example, smart boards, other equipment that is necessary to run the classroom. In addition to that, for the longest period anyone can remember, we've never really replaced the furniture that our students sit on, that our teachers use. So really we need a system over the next 10 years to gradually replace the equipment and furniture that our students and teachers use on a daily basis," Deighan said.
Another $7.5 million would give funding to specific organizations that Deighan says truly need it.
"Bands, orchestras, athletic teams and other activities that aren't covered under textbooks, which we've got funded, that aren't covered under the basics," Deighan said.
$3.2 million will be used on air conditioning systems. The remaining $15.8 million will be set aside as an emergency fund for general repairs.
"Our building fund is not adequate for that. This will allow us a small amount every year to handle those unexpected roofs, those unexpected HVAC systems and some other items that are also mentioned in the bond that we really just need to catch up on," Deighan said.
The bond will be paid for with a property tax increase, but Deighan said the increase will simply bring Lawton residents in line with other districts in the area.
"If you look historically, Lawton has invested in its own school district at a rate from anywhere from 3 times to 4 times less than the surrounding districts. With that, this is really about Lawton taking that step up to be competitive with other school districts and other districts our size in the state," Deighan said.
The city-wide vote will be held on November 14th. It will require at least 60-percent of the vote to pass.