WYANDOTTE, Okla. —
Voters in the Wyandotte and Afton school districts in Ottawa County will go to the polls today to vote on bond issues for construction projects.
The Wyandotte School District is looking to secure voter approval for a $1.62 million bond issue for a new cafeteria that will double as a Federal Emergency Management Agency approved safe room. The Afton School District is asking for $1.6 million to construct a new middle school. If passed, it will be the first bond approval for the district since 1984.
Afton Superintendent Randy Gardner said that new building is needed to meet growing student numbers.
“Enrollment has increased for us in the community and a new building would help us decrease overcrowding in our existing schools,” Gardner said. “Right now, we plan on using it as a middle school, but that could change based on district demand as needed.”
Plans for the new school would include eight classrooms, with four of those meeting FEMA safe room requirements for tornado shelters.
Homeowners in the Afton district now pay a tax rate of $71.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in annual school taxes according to Ottawa County Assessor Linda Kelly. That mill increase will go up by $14.92 to $86.42.
For the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000, the annual tax bill would increase by $155.17 from $743.60 to $898.77 in the first year. The 10-year levy decreases each year as the debt is paid off. Gardner said that the district is currently free of debt.
“The last time we passed a bond, it was for school transportation and that was over 30 years ago,” Gardner said. “We have been free of bond debt for a long time and now it is up to the community to decide if this is a project that they want to go forward with.”
In Wyandotte, the cafeteria addition will add 7,500 square-feet to the school district’s buildings. Wyandotte Superintendent Troy Gray said that the district’s bond issue could resolve some standing issues for the growing school district.
“A new cafeteria is a huge need for us because we have outgrown what we have now,” Gray said. “We’ve got elementary school lunch periods starting before 11 a.m., and we have high school students not eating lunch until 1 p.m. If we have a new cafeteria, we can cut down on our lunch periods and get the students back into the classrooms.”
According to the assessors office, homeowners in the Wyandotte district now pay $78.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in annual school taxes. The total levy includes money for the district’s current bond debt, but it is scheduled to be paid off in 2015.
For the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000, the annual tax bill would increase by $19.87 from $815.15 to $835.02 in the first year. The levy for the sinking fund would decrease in subsequent years as the debt is paid off.
“We are asking for a renewal and a little bump of less than two percent,” Gray said. “This new area will last us for the next 40 to 50 years.”
Gray said that the district will repurpose the old cafeteria if the bond passes with additional funding coming from the district’s budget if needed.
“We plan on putting a music room and additional classrooms there, but it will also serve as a safe area for students in case of bad weather,” Gray said.
The bond issues will require a three-fifths majority, or 60 percent, for approval. Polling place will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today in both districts.