Stigler Voters Defeat Bond Issue To Fix Aging Schools

Thursday, September 15th 2011, 8:20 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

STIGLER, Oklahoma -- The superintendent of a southeastern Oklahoma school district says its become a victim of the struggling economy.

Stigler Schools wanted to renovate its 70-year-old elementary school but when they asked voters for a tax hike, they were turned down cold.

"You can see where we've had some mold issues in here," said Stigler School superintendent Bill Self, as he opens a closet door inside the grade school built in 1940.

"It's hard to keep these closets cleaned up so you can see them," he said.

It's mold, not the dangerous kind he says, but still a health concern. The same can be seen inside a teacher's closet in another classroom.

"Again a 71-year-old building and 71-year-old buildings with flat roofs have problems," he said.

From rotting wood on portable buildings to utility wires criss-crossing just above where the students walk - the grade school, Self says, is a maze of trouble.

The roof on a portable building is sagging so the district had to build a wall to support it, which turned one big classroom into two smaller classrooms.

Right next door, in Mrs. Cariker's music class, another sagging roof is supported by a wooden beam.

"Well, I wish it wasn't there but we make the best of what we can with what we've got," Cariker said.

The district was asking for a $4.2 million bond to repair and renovate its buildings, but voters turned it down on Tuesday.

The superintendent says residents are fed up with paying taxes and he's worried that his school children are getting lost in the fight.

"There's some real inequities in all forms of taxes, but what I don't agree with is throwing the kids out because we're not willing to pay a little bit," Self said.

Self says until they figure out a new source of revenue they'll continue to patchwork the schools together. His teachers are worried what will happen as the district grows.

"We're just out of room everywhere, we've run out of places to be," Cariker said.

The superintendent is not sure what's going to happen next. He plans to meet with the school board and reassess the situation and, if necessary, they may pursue state or federal grants to help fund some of these projects.