LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The election to decide on a $99.5 million Lawton Public School bond is now just two weeks away.
$46 million will be used to build a new Eisenhower Middle School, which has several structural problems. The other $53.5 million will be spread out for projects at every school in Lawton.
When heavy storms make their way through Southwest Oklahoma, students at Carriage Hills Elementary School don't have any designated areas to go to. Some head to the office, others to the cafeteria, but right now they don't have any real safe rooms.
"It's scary. It's very scary. This is my baby. I am bringing him to this building all day long and I am expecting him to be safe and be taken care of," said Amanda Nunez, whose son attends Carriage Hills Elementary School. "If a storm comes through, where does he go? What does he do? There are no walls really in our school so it's a very scary situation as a parent."
A team of engineers was brought in last year to survey every school in the district and determine which ones needed safe rooms. Their findings showed 10 schools desperately needed them, so $14.5 million will be used for that.
Another $12.5 million will be put directly into the classrooms, with part of that money used to replace desks, bookshelves and chairs on their last legs.
"I've been in the building for 17 years and we've had the same desks," said 5th-grade teacher at Hugh Bish Elementary Larissa Krusinsky. "Some desks are chipped, some you can even pull piece up, the insides are dirty no matter how much we try to clean them. So desks, in general, are just old."
Another portion would purchase new band instruments. Many of the instruments are falling apart and there simply isn't enough money to repair them. MacArthur High School Band Director Larry Hatch said last year they even hit a point where they were comparing instruments with students from Lawton High. The MacArthur instruments were being held together with gorilla tape, while the Lawton High instruments were held together with duct tape.
"That's what they're having to use and judges can see that when we're on the field, they see that equipment is not up to standards," Hatch said.
"It's also a little bit embarrassing to compete against other bands who have nice, shiny instruments and ours are being held together with tape.
Athletic and physical education departments across the district are also facing equipment problems. Tomlinson Middle School Athletic Director Sherry Powell said the funding they get currently barely covers the officials for the games and travel expenses for the teams, let alone new equipment or even an air conditioner in their gym.
"We have athletics that go on year-round with no air conditioning. If the kids are in there and it's 100 degrees outside, sometimes it's 112 in the gym. That's a safety issue," Powell said. "Football is a big one, we want to make sure everything is safe, from the helmets they use to the pads they're wearing."
The election is November 14th and teachers and coaches in the district said approving the bond is a way to give the kids something to be proud of.
"When our kids travel to these other schools, they see their facilities, they see their equipment, the things they have and they wonder why we don't have those things," Powell said.
"They are just managing because they know that's what we have to do. It'd be nice to do more than just manage. It'd be nice to have a sense of pride and a sense of ownership of quality items in the classroom," Krusinsky said.
You can find more information about the changes needed at Eisenhower Middle School here.
You can find more information about the rest of the school bond, including how much your property tax will increase here.