Muskogee School Superintendent: $20-Million Bond Issue Overdue

Monday, December 13th 2010, 6:25 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -- Several cities and school districts are holding special elections Tuesday and the biggest one in Green Country is for Hilldale Public Schools in Muskogee.

The district is asking for a $20-million bond issue. The superintendent says this bond election is long overdue, which is why it costs so much.

If it passes, it would raise property taxes by 39 percent.

Hilldale Public Schools has big plans that carry a big price tag -- $20 million. Superintendent D.B Merrill says the district is growing, but there's no room for growth.

"We probably have 60-70 students that are transferring out of our district for preschool to go to a full-day program. We'd love to offer it, we just simply don't have the room to offer that," Merrill said.

The bond issue would change that and many other things. The proposal calls for a new 90,000 square foot high school.

The current high school is 65,000 square feet and would become the middle school. The current middle school would become the fourth and fifth grade center.

The plan also includes safe rooms, a new cafeteria, office space as well as new access roads and parking lots.

"They need to think if it's been cost effective in the way we spend and they need to look at what it may offer the boys and girls in the future," Merrill said.

The 4A district has 1,800 students and they grow by 2025 students each year. If passed, property taxes would spike 39 percent.

"If you look at it on the month, it's about $3.27 and if you look at it per day, it's between ten and eleven cents, so it's all in how you look," Merrill said.

"Everything else raises all the taxes. I mean I don't like it, but that's just the way it is," said Muskogee taxpayer Herbie Justice.

"Very excited about the bond issue. I think it's just a great day for Hilldale, progressing us to our future and our full potential," said taxpayer Cara Whorton.

If the bond issue passes, the district could get the money as early as July and start the projects in August.

The superintendent says the school district has had three bond elections in its entire history that only added classrooms to existing facilities.

Merrill says these plans would sustain the district for the next 25 years.