Voters reject bond issues after school removes nativity

Wednesday, December 15th 2004, 12:32 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Voters in a school district wrought with controversy over the removal of a nativity scene from an elementary school play narrowly rejected two school bond issues in Tuesday's election.

Voters in Mustang, a community a few miles west of Oklahoma City, nixed the $10.4 million bond issue to build a new elementary school.

In unofficial results, the bond issue got 1,300 yes votes and 1,099 no votes, according to the Canadian County Election Board. With only 54 percent of voters supporting the issue, it failed. The bond issue needed 60 percent support to pass.

Mustang Superintendent Karl Springer said he respects the wishes of the voters, but acknowledged some voters might have held a grudge against the school district for his decision to pull the nativity scene from a Mustang elementary school play last week.

``It's been a very difficult time for Mustang Public Schools,'' Springer said. ``The part I'm most saddened about is we've used kind of an asymmetrical approach, where we're going to work on defeat to send a message to us, as if we needed a message sent to us.''

A nativity scene was cut from Lakehoma Elementary's Christmas performance last week at the recommendation of the school district's attorney.

Other holiday symbols associated with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa remained in the program, causing protest among parents and community members. Their efforts included a live nativity scene across the street from Mustang High School.

Voters also rejected a second proposition that would have provided $500,000 for transportation needs. The bond issue got 55 percent support, or 1,353 yes votes. Unofficial totals show that 1,103 people voted against it. That bond issue also needed 60 percent to pass.

``That kind of strategy where you attack one thing to defeat another is very questionable,'' Springer said. ``The people who lose are the children.''