Leaders Urge School Bond Passage

VOTING YES: Broken Arrow Mayor Mike Lester, seated, and former mayors Richard Carter, Nick Hood and Wade McCaleb along with many other citizens are supporting the nine-year, $295 million school bond issue that goes before voters on Dec. 8. Unavailable for this photo was another supporter, former mayor Dr. Jim Newcomb.

The school bond issue that goes before voters on Dec. 8 has drawn the support of many citizens and leaders in the Broken Arrow community.

Included in the issue is money for three new schools and needed improvements at all 23 Broken Arrow Public Schools sites. Much to the delight of teachers, students and parents alike, it will do away with deteriorating temporary buildings, many of which have been part of the system for decades. It will allow completion of a program to add full gymnasiums to every elementary site, put new school busses on the road and give students the 21st Century technology they need to compete at the highest levels.

The school bond issue is an exceptionally well thought-out proposal that deserves overwhelming support, according to Russel Peterson, chairman of the Build A Better Broken Arrow Committee that is pushing for passage of the issue.

Peterson, well known for leadership roles in a large number of city bond issues, said this is the first time he has gotten involved in a school election. He did, he said, “because I really believe this might be the most important education issue to go before voters since we voted a tax upon ourselves to bring Northeastern State University to Broken Arrow. The big difference here is we get all the benefits with no new taxes.”

At first glance, the issue looks complex, but Bob Lewis, retired managing editor of the Broken Arrow Ledger and a member of the BABBA committee, says that it really is quite simple. “It does away with the baby steps approach most voters are accustomed to that has held back advancement of the school district and allows one giant step forward that will enable it to get ahead of the curve on pressing facilities, infrastructure, transportation and instructional tools needs. This is something our kids need and deserve.”

Broken Arrow Mayor Mike Lester and former mayors Richard Carter, Nick Hood and Wade McCaleb are also supporting the bond issue.

Lester, a commercial builder and developer, applauds the lease revenue bond approach being taken by the school system because it will make money available almost immediately to jump start high priority undertakings. “Broken Arrow is behind neighboring districts in terms of facilities and the only way we are ever going to catch up is by taking a bold step like this,” he says. “As a member of the construction industry, I can assure you in the next three to five years, construction costs will be up 20 percent to 30 percent because of inflation. That’s why it is so important to get these things going using today’s dollars.”

Carter agrees and notes that there is a vital importance of getting control of classroom shortages and establishing a best school district in Oklahoma position the community expects and demands.

McCaleb points to the importance of a showcase school district in the highly competitive world of economic development. “Certainly, people look at taxes, infrastructure and things like that. But education is always number one or number two on the list of things companies look at in making expansion and relocation decisions,” he says.

Newcomb mentions that Broken Arrowans are rightfully proud of their town, and support of the local school system is a reflection of that pride.

Hood adds that his support comes from the conviction that education is the most important thing an individual can receive “and we need to provide the best.”

Greater Tulsa Reporter Newspapers agrees and is pleased to endorse this bond issue and urge its readers to vote “yes” on Dec. 8.

Polls in the Broken Arrow Public Schools district open at 7 a.m. By state law, the bond issue must receive a 60 percent majority to pass.

Updated 11-23-2009

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