Voters make tech center dreams come true

greg winters

By Traci Chapman

Canadian Valley Technology Center officials were celebrating Tuesday, after voters approved a $12 million bond issue slated for reconstruction of the school’s El Reno campus.

In an election spanning several counties, 62.7 percent – 2,156 individuals – of those casting ballots approved the proposal, with 1,281 voters, or 37.3 percent, voting against. A total of 3,437 people participated in the election.

Unlike bond issues for common education, the technology center bond issue required only a simple majority for approval.

Bond issue funds will round out insurance proceeds received by the center and will help to reconstruct the school’s El Reno campus, which was destroyed by the May 31, 2013, tornado. Since that time, programs, staff and students have been scattered throughout the county at several locations holding classes. Superintendent Dr. Greg Winters said the bond issue would allow all of those people to “come home,” as well as provide storm shelters for every person on campus. When completed, those shelters would hold up to 1,200 people; Winters said about 1,000 to 1,200 people attend or visit the technology center campus daily.

“Any building we build ever again will have a safe room in it,” he said. “We’re building the safest technology center in the United States of America.”

(Rendering/courtesy MA+ Architecture)

(Rendering/courtesy MA+ Architecture)

Several people took shelter at the campus, which did not have a storm shelter. Winters said it was “a miracle” there were no injuries at the site.

Skeletal steel and concrete was salvaged from parts of two buildings, and the center’s business and industry services division on the west end of campus was reconstructed during summer 2013. While the school was fully insured, construction estimates topped out at about $45 million because of needed code improvements, landscaping and safe room construction, as well as parking lots and driveways, Winters said. Voters’ confidence in the school filled that gap, the superintendent said.

“We are proud to be a part of this community, and the community always supports the center,” Winters said last week.

The superintendent said he hoped to move forward quickly with the construction process, with the bid process beginning as early as this month. He said he expected the entire project to take about 2 1/2 years, with an anticipated fall 2016 completion date.

Property taxes would increase about $1 per month for a homeowner with a home valued at $100,000, Winters said. The bond would expire in 10 years, the superintendent said.

“We appreciate folks getting out and supporting Canadian Valley to get the school rebuilt,” Winters said. “I am proud of the turnout and that voters strongly supported us.”