School board puts two school bonds up for public vote

Lawton_Lawton Public Schools is going to see a student population boom over the next three years, all thanks to BRAC. So they're asking voters to pass two school bonds to upgrade the schools and serve all the students.

The school board decided to send both bond proposals to the voters. One would raise $33.5 million for construction of 100 new classrooms and a new elementary school on Ft. Sill. The other, for $5 million, to buy new school buses. The school board says this money is needed because the school district expects to see nearly two thousand new students, and now the schools just can't fit them in.

They have aging buses. "We have gotten our money out of our buses, there's no doubt about that," said LPS Superintendent Barry Beauchamp. "Good bang for the buck for our taxpayers. But we have buses that are 30 years old. We need to take care of getting those updated and safer for our children."

And students are forced into deteriorating portable classrooms because every desk inside is full. "We will need roughly 100 classrooms, we will need 100 new teachers, and the equipment for those classrooms," Beauchamp said. "That is what we will be shooting for. The good part about this is bond issue is we will be able to build those classrooms where those children go."

The students are also learning on outdated computers. "This will give us an opportunity to put adequate labs in our buildings so that students at elementary schools can be prepared to move into the secondary level where they do a little bit more with the technology than just learn about it," he said.

Five million dollars from the construction bond will provide all new computer labs and smart classrooms. "We're the last of the public entities to come forward and seek some type of taxation to help with our expansion," he said. "Obviously having adequate facilities, having the proper kinds of technology that are state of the art, that's what our children need if they're going to compete with other children that are in other school districts."

What makes these bond proposals different? Since the need for improvement is BRAC-related, the state will pay the interest on the construction bond. So the public will only pay the interest on the $5 million transportation bond.

The vote will be May 13th. By state law, at least 60 percent of the voters must approve it for the measure to pass. If it passes, the district could see the money as early as July, meaning upgrades will start this fall as the first wave of about 800 new students get here.