Enrollment growth, old buildings, causing Guymon Public Schools to bring bond to voters

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GUYMON, OK (KAMR/KCIT) — Student population at Guymon Public Schools is nearing its capacity, according to Superintendent Angela Rhoades. A recent forecast reported that the projected enrollment number will only increase in the future. 

Because of this increase, as well as the age of some of the buildings within the district, Rhoades believes it is time for Guymon Public Schools to start looking to the future, with the potential of the district having 3,347 students by 2028.

“We have to do something,” she said. “We are at about 3,000 kids and for next year, with our forecast, they are expecting us to have 3,100 students. We are tapped out right now where we are with 3,000.” 

Officials with Guymon Public Schools are bringing Guymon residents a vision for that future growth, giving them a chance to vote on a $75.9 million bond in October. The final day to register to vote in this bond election is Sept. 17. 

According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, officials with the district previously stated the 2021 bond would address three main needs, including safety and security, additional classrooms, and improved facilities. Because of the changes however, some of the older campuses in the district, including campuses originally built in the 1940’s and 1950’s, would be demolished. 

If the bond passes, three campuses would not be in use: Academy B & C, Northeast and Homer Long. According to the plan, Northeast would be torn down to help the expansion of North Park and Academy B & C would be torn down so the junior high expansion can occur. Officials expect Homer Long to be repurposed for another use by the district or the community in the future.

If the bond is approved, additions would occur at North Park Elementary, Guymon Junior High and Guymon High School. The additions include more than 60 new classrooms, tornado safe rooms, secure entrances, technology infrastructure upgrades, as well as other campus renovations. 

Because of the age of the buildings, Rhoades said there are no tornado safe rooms at any of the campuses, except for Prairie Elementary. The safety and security measures which would also be added include vestibules for individuals to be checked in prior to going in the school building. 

But the age of the campuses also impact the district’s access to technology at points, Rhoades said, especially with every student in the district having access to a Chromebook or iPad. 

“We are a one-to-one district now. These buildings that were built in the 40’s, they don’t have enough outlets and they don’t have the infrastructure to support a one-to-one (plan). We are struggling with connectivity. Our teachers struggle daily with trying to plug in their devices and making sure they are charged,” she said. “To go in and remodel these buildings, we would not be using taxpayer money wisely at that point. It’s cheaper for us to add on to current buildings so that we can close some of our really old buildings and get them in newer facilities so that they can accommodate everything they need to accommodate to educate kids.” 

Along with the additions in infrastructure and the various remodeling projects, the bond would also bring changes in what campuses students could attend. According to previous reports, Prairie Elementary would serve kindergarten and first grade students, North Park Elementary would serve second grade through fifth grade students, Guymon Junior High would serve sixth grade through eighth grade students, and Guymon High School would serve ninth grade through 12th grade students. 

The goal out of this change is for teachers to be able to streamline curriculum, Rhoades said, giving them the chance to prepare and plan as a team. Rhoades also expects student achievement to increase with this new approach, giving the students a chance to grow together. 

Rhoades believes the bond improvements would also increase the district’s teacher retention and recruitment efforts, making them more competitive with area districts. 

“Teachers want to come and teach in an updated, progressive, facility,” she said. “We all know that with progressive and updated facilities comes tax issues and we want to call it more of an investment. We pay taxes every day and not every day can you see where your tax dollars are going. What we want people to see is nice, updated facilities that their children are coming to. They can drive by every day and see that their tax dollars are at work.”

If the bond passes, Rhoades said Guymon Public Schools will be respectful of the history of the buildings which have been a part of the district for years, incorporating bricks from the high school’s alumni court into the high school’s remodel, for example. 

However, Rhoades said she is not confident that the schools within the district are suitable for students in its current capacity. 

“It’s very vital to us that we move forward and give our students everything that they deserve,” Rhoades said. 

With the district being as taxed as it is currently, Rhoades said a bond for improvements to Guymon Public Schools is the only option. Rhoades believes that these improvements would impact all students and all staff, helping Guymon Public Schools compete at a more competitive educational level. 

“That’s why we framed it ‘investing in our future,’ she said. “That’s exactly what we are doing because they will be able to see it. We are looking at safety and security measures. We are looking at additional classrooms, improved facilities. We are going to be able to offer more programs and support.”

Officials anticipate all bond-related improvements and additions to be completed in about two years, according to previous reports. . 

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 12. Early voting will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 7-8 at the Election Board, located in the Courthouse Annex at 301 N. Main in Guymon. For individuals voting by absentee ballot, individuals can request a ballot online until Oct. 5.

The final day to register to vote for the bond election is Sept. 17. Individuals can register online or by visiting the Election Board between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Election Board, located at 301 N. Main in Guymon.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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