Staff, then community input sought on August 2016 bond issue

posted May 23, 2016, 6:53 AM by District Webmaster   [ updated May 25, 2016, 9:59 AM ]

During its meeting on May 16, 2016, the Bartlesville Board of Education discussed a possible bond issue for August 2016. All school district staff members have been invited to attend one of four forums with Chuck McCauley, who will become Superintendent of Schools in July:

FOUR MEETINGS FOR BPSD STAFF MEMBERS TO PICK FROM:

DATES: Thursday, May 26 -OR- Friday, May 27


TIMES & LOCATIONS ON BOTH DAYS:
10 a.m. in the Madison Middle School Auditorium
-OR- 2 p.m. in the Freshman Academy Conference Center

PUBLIC INVITED TO BOARD WORKSHOP AT NOON ON JUNE 2
At noon on Thursday, June 2 the Board of Education will conduct a public workshop meeting at the Freshman Academy Conference Center at Bartlesville High School, entrance off Shawnee north of 18th Street. The members of the district's Long Range Facilities Committee will be specifically invited to participate, but the meeting format will seek and allow input from any community member.

PUBLIC ALSO INVITED TO COMMUNITY FORUM AT 6 P.M. ON JUNE 6
At 6 p.m. on Monday, June 6, there will be a Community Forum about the possible bond issue. It will also be held at the Freshman Academy Conference Center at Bartlesville High School, entrance off Shawnee north of 18th Street. Again, the format will seek and allow input from any community member.

PREVENTING ADDITIONAL STAFFING CUTS & CLASS SIZE INCREASES
When Board President Scott Bilger presented the concept of the bond issue on May 16, the top priority was to shift more operational expenses from the general fund to bond issue funds. The district has suffered repeated state revenue shortfalls in 2015 and 2016 and has cut $1.9 million from its 2016-2017 budget. The cuts include the loss of 21 teaching positions, 3 district administrator positions, and 15 other support positions.

If the community approved a bond issue, $700,000 in additional annual operational expenses could be covered for five years by bond issue funding, which might prevent additional staffing cuts in 2017-2018 and consequent increases in class sizes.

OTHER NEEDED IMPROVEMENTS
The initial concept for the bond issue also includes other needed improvements:
  • Equip students and classrooms with computing devices; update classroom touchscreen teaching walls, furniture, and finishes
  • Renovate common spaces, including middle school auditoriums and elementary playgrounds
  • Improve the reconfigured facilities for the athletics and music programs
  • Update Jane Phillips' interior to match other schools
  • Fund needed maintenance and repairs across the district
  • Update old bus fleet and other vehicles
The staff forums and public board meeting will help the district focus on the largest priorities and scale the bond issue to meet community expectations.

MILLAGE INCREASE
One reason staff and community input is especially important is that any bond issue at this point would require an increase in ad valorem taxes; the district is still paying off on earlier bond issues, including the one which added grades 9-10 to Bartlesville High School and is partially renovating Central Middle School. Estimates are that an August 2016 bond issue would increase the school district's sinking fund millage from the current 27 mills to 30 mills. For a home valued at $100,000, the homeowner would pay an additional $3/month in property taxes.

The school district is willing to entertain that idea, given the severe funding crisis for public schools across the state. The hope is that local voters will choose to invest in their own schools, making up for some of the continued cuts in state per-pupil funding and helping the district provide a better education for the children it serves.
May 2016 Staff Forums on Bond Issue



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District Webmaster,
May 23, 2016, 6:53 AM