Bond proposal dominates Broken Arrow State of Education address


By Brittany Harlow, Contributing Writer

Although there are many challenges facing the district, the upcoming bond proposal this fall dominated Broken Arrow Public Schools Supt. Chuck Perry’s State of Education address Wednesday.

“Last year we had 20,000 students for the first time,” Perry told attendees at the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “It grew to 20,300+ this year. And with all the projections if you drive around the city right now, and see all the neighborhoods popping up, we expect that to continue to grow.”

Perry said around 60 community stakeholders, parents and employees met with district leaders during the spring to develop and present a plan for this year’s bond proposal, aimed at maintaining what the district has now and managing new growth.

If passed, the 2023 proposed bond will invest $52 million into BAPS over the next 5 years, a majority of which will fund district operations. Those operations include new safety precautions, technology enhancements, facility maintenance, bus terminal creation, and fine arts and sports improvements.

Perry shared his speaking time with BAPS Chief Financial Officer Natalie Eneff, Director of Student Services Derrick Blackburn, Long-Range Planning Committee member Jason Barnes and BAPS Executive Director of Virtual Programs and Instructional Technology Brandon Chitty.

Barnes said safety was the highest priority of everything discussed.

“Our community might say, ‘Is that ever going to happen in Broken Arrow?’” Barnes said. “We hope and pray it never does happen — but we also don’t want to be the ones to answer the question, ‘Why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you put that safety in place?’”

New safety precautions would include a perimeter fence around Broken Arrow High School and body cameras for BAPS security guards amongst other improvements.

“We’re really doing a lot of research right now on metal detectors for our football games, or it could be our basketball games,” Perry said. “We could use them at our school sites, the new ones are a lot more portable than the old ones. You don’t have to remove anything out of your pockets, and we’re researching that. That could be another thing we could purchase out of this bond.”

The largest dollar amount on the bond is technology, which Chitty said is a necessary investment due to how embedded technology is in society.

“We’ve had 57.5 million digital learning activities submitted through our learning management system,” Chitty said. “That’s an incredible number.”

Chitty said that shows continued investment is important to ensure students are prepared for the next steps.

Another last large chunk of funding discussed at length during Wednesday’s luncheon was facility maintenance.

“We look across the district and we have one-thousand-nine-hundred HVAC units and there’s a portion of them that need to be replaced,” Perry said. “Some of them are 26 to 30 years old. We have a lot of rooftops. We had a roof audit done recently that showed we have 13 roofs in our district with D and F ratings.”

The bond ballot will be divided into four separate questions, with information about each provided by the district as follows:

  • Proposition 1 Operations ($48 million)

Prioritize technology, enhance facilities, increase safety and security, and improve transportation

  • Proposition 2 Transportation ($4 million)

Purchase buses

  • Proposition 3 Classroom Wings (No new money)

Add classrooms at existing sites rather than build a new elementary

  • Proposition 4 Pool Location (No new money)

Give flexibility to construct the pool in the Kirkland Activities Complex, no change in project amount from 2015 bond

The first two questions are new and the last two are reconsiderations from the 2015 bond, the latter relating to building plan revisions and location changes.

School officials said there is no tax increase for Broken Arrow citizens associated with the 2023 bond, instead the new bond, if passed, will simply replace the old bonds in the tax cycle.

“It’s a win for the district with these bond projects on here,” Perry said. “It’s an interesting bond issue here because there’s nothing really shiny, there’s not just that one construction project we can point to, it’s more the safety and security part, that I have in my mind that’s going to drive this and that’s important to me more than any of the other projects.”

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified