Superintendent responds to bond issue letter

By Sean McDaniel

In a Letter to the Editor that was recently printed titled “Reasons to vote No on Feb. 11,” bond election detailed information was provided for readers’ consideration regarding the upcoming school bond election. Information presented in the recent Letter to the Editor are factually false. Accurate information is available below for your review.

MISINFORMATION No. 1

The district is planning to construct two stand-alone facilities “solely out of brick” when steel buildings would suffice and that one will have “16 batting cages.” And “new facilities would be unnecessary if the current gymnasium is upgraded.”

ACCURATE INFORMATION

The two stand-alone facilities are line items in the bond election; a JROTC Training and Instructional Center and a multi-purpose baseball and softball training facility. Neither will be constructed “solely out of brick” as stated in the Letter to the Editor. Both will be steel buildings with only a brick façade. There will be seven, maybe eight batting lanes in the baseball and softball facility, not 16 as reported. Recently we solicited estimates to renovate the old P.E. building to see what it would cost to bring it up to code and to make a more safe and useable space for our students. The cost exceeded $600,000 which seems to be an unwise investment considering the age and condition of the building.

MISINFORMATION No. 2

The district “lacks the ability and willingness to properly schedule use of facilities” and the district can use a single building to accommodate JROTC, baseball and softball. These district programs are “not year-round programs.”

ACCURATE INFORMATION

All three programs mentioned are year-round programs, including summers. The JROTC alone uses their current facilities for a minimum of 10 hours per day, many times 12 hours per day. Most days the JROTC students are in their current facility until 5 p.m. Many times they are there until 7 p.m. There would be no plausible scenario that would allow for three programs to properly use one facility. Broken Arrow’s “dual-use” facility referenced in the Letter to the Editor is not relevant as BA does not have a JROTC program. Their facility is shared by baseball, softball and cheer programs, none of which have the schedule that the Mustang JROTC program has. The Letter to the Editor reported that the BA facility cost $1.4 million. The $1.4 million was for the metal building only and did not include the construction of locker rooms, office space, storage, flooring, and many other furnishings, fixtures and equipment necessary to make the building functional. The building was constructed in 2004. At today’s costs based on a conservative 4 percent increase in materials and construction, the same 20,000-square-foot building would cost approximately $3.7 to $4.3 million.

MISINFORMATION No. 3

“No business or right-thinking consumer … would ever consider financing…” technology devices like laptops, desktops or IPads “over a five- to 10-year period” and “this being a five-year bond issue doesn’t square with the practice of using lease-revenue bonds,” which implies that district taxpayers will be paying for technology devices for as long as 10 to 15 years. The author states, “I am concerned about the funding of short-lived assets like laptops, tablets, IPads, and similar equipment using long-term bond financing, the terms of which will substantially exceed the life of these type assets by several years.”

ACCURATE INFORMATION

The proposed bond is a five-year General Obligation Bond and has nothing to do with lease revenue or long-term financing whatsoever. Everything on this bond election will be paid for in full at the conclusion of five years. At no time has a lease revenue option been discussed by district personnel relative to this bond election. The life cycle of devices in schools is typically seven to10 years. As such, the devices that would be purchased with these bond funds will be in use by Mustang students long after the devices have been paid for which is completely opposite of what the author has stated. It is an excellent investment and is how many districts, including ours, are able to secure more technology for student use. The $1.6 million of technology items identified in the Feb. 11 election will allow us to get the district ahead of the curve with the purchase of literally several hundred devices that students can use in every school. It is a very exciting opportunity.

MISINFORMATION No. 4

“The school district is already maxed out on its General Obligation Bonding capacity at the 10 percent constitutional limit with respect to the Mustang School District Net Assessed Property Valuation.”

ACCURATE INFORMATION

The Mustang School District is not maxed out. This is an absolutely false statement. If the district were “maxed” out as the author contends, it could not legally complete the issuance of the proposed bonds as planned. The district has a long-standing history of responsibly maintaining a bond program that allows it to secure funding for capital needs. Every bond proposal goes through a multi-step process of evaluation before it gets on a ballot. The process includes review by bond advisers, bond attorneys and the attorney general’s office.

The Feb. 11 election is about students. It is an opportunity the district has to provide technology and facility upgrades, construct playground equipment, secure equipment for fine arts students and to take a step forward. Honest and open debate is healthy. To purposely mislead others by advancing inaccurate information is unhealthy.

The desire of the Mustang School District is the same as the desire of parents, which is for the students to have the best opportunities and experiences in the classroom and outside of the classroom that are available.

Please consider voting on Feb. 11.

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