Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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The bond election on Tuesday, Nov. 12 would dedicate $1.325 million for a new practice facility to house all the players, from freshmen to seniors.

By Jon Watje
Managing Editor 

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, citizens who reside in the Mustang School District will have the opportunity to cast their vote on a $4.8 million school bond. 

Passage of one ballot question ($750,000) will allow the district to purchase six route buses and two buses that will accommodate handicap students. A second ballot question ($4,050,000) addresses several program, equipment, and technology needs.

"We are looking at this election as a way to provide literally hundreds and hundreds of our students with bigger and better opportunities," said Mustang Superintendent Sean McDaniel. "It doesn’t take much examination to see that the Mustang community has been extremely supportive of the school district. From volunteer organizations like PTA, Booster clubs, or our W.A.T.C.H.D.O.G. dads program in the elementary schools, to the strong support at the polls in recent school bond elections, our community seems to always come through when it comes to supporting our students and teachers. November 12 presents another opportunity to provide our district with facility and program improvements that would keep us on the path to becoming the premier 6A district in Oklahoma."

McDaniel said he and his staff calculated that if the bond issue passes, there would be very little impact on taxes, if any.

"Mustang is very fortunate to be in such a unique position," he said.

"The combination of retiring bond debt, an increase in property value, and lower interest rates than anticipated has presented an opportunity to address many needs with very little, if any, effect on the taxpayer. We believe there is an outside chance that this school bond, if it passes, might add about $2.50 a month in taxes on a $100,000 home or property. Realistically, we believe that taxes will not be affected at all."

If the bond passes, hundreds of students who participate in JROTC, Agriculture Education (FFA), baseball and softball will be the recipients of new and improved facilities, McDaniel said. Additionally, money would be combined with other district funds to purchase playground equipment, equipment and technology for the Arts programs like Drama, Woodworking, Instrumental and Vocal Music, and elementary art along with Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) programs.

"This bond election is about kids and developing a number of our programs so that more opportunities might be available," McDaniel said.


Why not tornado shelters?

The most popular question among Mustang residents regarding the upcoming school bond issue is: Why aren’t storm shelters on the ballot?

"This is a timing issue," McDaniel said. "If storm shelters were on the November 12 bond election, and if the election were to pass, money would not be available until March or April and construction on storm shelters would not be completed until after the spring of 2014 storm season."

McDaniel said Oklahoma State Rep. Joe Dorman is promoting the "Take Shelter Oklahoma" initiative that, if successful, would put a storm shelter in every school in Oklahoma. He is seeking to get this initiative on a ballot for the voters of Oklahoma to decide. Approximately 156,000 signatures are necessary by Dec. 16 to take this to a vote of the people.

"Whether you are in favor of this approach or not, it makes sense to see how the initiative plays out," McDaniel said. "If Oklahoma voters say ‘yes’ to the ballot question, then Mustang Schools will be the recipient of storm shelters."


General Philosophy

A committee in the school district was put together to identify programs in need of support from the bond issue.

"As decisions are made regarding program and facility expenditures, our goal is to provide the very best for our students," McDaniel said. "No single bond election can address all of the needs in a district and so a prioritization must occur. Discussions can be had and arguments can be made about priorities and what projects and/or programs should trump others. Ultimately it needs to come down to opportunities for students."

Focus Areas

During the past two years, Mustang has had a distinct focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiatives.

Several Mustang schools have been recognized and rewarded for STEM programs and significant resources have been earmarked from district funds to support STEM opportunities in schools, McDaniel said.

"If successful, additional dollars from this bond issue will be added to funds already established specifically for STEM opportunities," he said. "Mustang has dedicated in excess of $6 million in the past two years to address infrastructure upgrades, devices, and technology equipment as we continue to provide academic and classroom opportunities. We will continue to leverage a variety of funds so that we can provide STEM opportunities."

McDaniel said he encourages every voter in the district to get to the polls on Tuesday.

"I am genuinely excited about this particular bond election because it presents an opportunity to make a significant difference for literally hundreds, maybe thousands of kids for a relatively small amount while having little to no impact on the taxpayer," he said.


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