Voters in Sallisaw will go to the polls tomorrow to decide the fate of a new middle school in the district that comes with a price tag of more than $15 million.
Updated info: Voters in the Sallisaw Public School District overwhelmingly approved issuing bonds to build a new middle school in the district.
Voters voted 78.4% in favor of the project, with only 21.6% voting against the bond issuance. The number of votes cast was 1,090 for and 301 against, according to results published by the Oklahoma State Election Board.
Sallisaw superintendent Scott Farmer said the new $15 million middle school will be constructed adjacent to high school just off of Interstate 40.
According to Superintendent Scott Farmer of Sallisaw Public Schools, a new facility is needed for two reasons.
"The current facility has numerous issues, but the top ones are safety (and flooding)," he said.
Farmer said the school has 20 doors that staff must manage during the school day as students go between buildings.
"Every hour we send 400 kids across Main Street," he said. "In addition to safety, we have flooding issues. That facility is in a flood plain."
While many students, teachers and parents may not have experienced a flood during the recent drought, Farmer said it would only take one heavy downpour to flood the school.
To pay for a new middle school, the district has put a bond issue before voters that would last for 14 years and provide $15.8 million for funding of the new school, Farmer said.
According to information posted on the district's website, the new school would have:
• 21 standard classrooms;
• 2 science labs;
• A special education classroom with restroom/changing room;
• 3 computer labs;
• A cafeteria with kitchen;
• A secure entrance for all visitors;
• 3 restroom areas;
• A media center;
• A physical education facility;
• An office for a school resource officer; and
• A band room.
Farmer said the new school, if built, already had security features included in its design even before the Newtown, Conn., in Dec. 2012.
"We have always had an entrance designed to create barriers between visitors and students. You would have to enter in through the principal's office before going in the building," Farmer said. "Visitors have to be buzzed in and pass by the school's resource officer."
For added security, he said the principal's office and the school counselor's office will be able to see all people coming and going from the school.
If voters pass the bond, which would raise the millage in the district to 91.67 mils, the current school will not go unoccupied for long, according to Farmer.
He said city and county offices may move into the building. Additionally, Farmer said the Boys and Girls Club may use the facility, as well.
Early voting continues today until 6 p.m. at the Sequoyah County Election Board.
Regular voting will take place tomorrow at polling precincts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.