Correction: This story incorrectly referred to Harris-Jobe Elementary school. The story has been corrected.
Muskogee residents on Tuesday will vote on a $110 million bond proposal that would beef up the city’s aging school buildings and introduce new athletic facilities.
If it passes, the largest bond package in Muskogee Public Schools history will impact every school within the district — some more than others.
Tony Goetz Elementary, for instance, would be torn down and rebuilt to make room for 400 students at the new site. Muskogee Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said the building is more than 50 years old and has experienced environmental issues.
The vacant Alice Robertson school, which is about 80 years old, would be renovated into a freshman academy that could accommodate up to 500 students, with parts of the building remaining the same to commemorate its history.
Both projects, which cost a combined $31 million, are part of the first phase of the bond issue — called the 2019 Student Investment Plan — and would be completed by the start of the 2021-22 school year.
“For the first time in over 30 years, we’re going to have two brand new schools,” Mendenhall said. “That’ll be pretty impactful, I think, for the community.”
With the cost of maintaining the numerous aging school buildings continuing to rise, the superintendent believes a long-term commitment is needed to ensure financial stability.
A 31-member long range planning committee comprising business owners, parents and school employees began meeting in October 2018 to review the condition of the district’s facilities. The committee recommended that Muskogee move forward with a significant investment of each site.
Other major projects include expanding the Sadler Arts Academy to include seven new classrooms as well as an alumni center and transforming the Harris Jobe building into a prekindergarten center with a capacity of 400. The redesigned site also would house a childcare center for 50 kids ages 6 weeks to 3 years old.
An expansive hallway would be built at Muskogee High School to connect the entire campus, extending from the Performing Arts Center to the media center. A secure front entrance, along with administrative and College and Career Services offices, also would be constructed.
At $20 million, the most expensive bond project involves the construction of Rougher Fieldhouse, which would be built adjacent to the high school campus and feature a gymnasium with seating for about 2,000 spectators. The fieldhouse also would include a weight room, dressing rooms, a sports medicine training room and enough space to host large meetings, banquets and community events.
Another $12 million would be spent on a new football stadium with seating for about 9,000 spectators.
The Indian Bowl, which is the district’s current stadium, would continue to be used for varsity soccer, varsity track and junior high football.
The new fieldhouse and football stadium would be completed by summer 2020.
Additionally, the district plans to spend $5 million to purchase and convert the former Staples property across from the high school into a state-of-the-art facility for its cheerleading and dance programs. The new facility also would house the district’s Athletic Department and a merchandise store.
The bond proposal calls for increasing the millage rate from 20 to 32. This means a resident who owns a home valued at $100,000 would pay an additional $119.30 per year in ad valorem taxes, according to district officials.
Mendenhall said the increase would make Muskogee more comparable to other similarly sized districts across the state.
“Our facilities are in really bad shape,” he said. “We have the worst facilities in 6A. So we’ve got to do something about that. We’ve got to step up. Other communities have done that, and it’s our opportunity to do the same.”
More information about the bond package can be found online at muskogeeps.org.
Polls in Muskogee will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
School bonds require a super-majority vote of 60% to pass.
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