Voters in the El Reno School District approved $45.3 million in bond issues to build a new math and science wing onto the high school and a brand new elementary school during Tuesday's election.
The bonds will increase property taxes in the school district by roughly 6.5 percent. Voters had defeated a similar bond issue just over a year ago.
“Anytime you're talking about a tax increase, it's going to be tough,” said the new El Reno schools Superintendent Craig McVay. “It's especially tough for our fixed-income individuals who are property owners. A lot of them don't have children in school and even grandchildren in school … to get this kind of support I think is just a testimony to the people who worked so hard.”
Voters in Luther defeated a 1 percent sales tax that would have gone to capital improvement projects in the small town.
Results were similar to an attempt in June to pass a sales tax increase with 104 people voting against the sales tax and 49 voting in favor.
Oklahoma school bond proposals require a 60 percent majority to be approved.
About 73 percent of voters approved the bond issues in El Reno on Tuesday.
“It's a matter of trust,” McVay said, giving credit to the former school Superintendent Ranet Tippens and the education board.
The proposal called for purchase and demolition of the First Baptist Church located just south of the El Reno High School.
A 32,000-square-foot math and science wing will be built on the land.
The old high school building will also be renovated for a total of about $9.4 million. The church has plans to relocate, McVay said.
Now that the bond has passed the projects should move forward quickly, he said.
Two elementary schools — Lincoln and Webster — will be closed under the plan.
A new $13.6 million elementary school to house 500 students in two grades will be constructed adjacent to Roblyer Middle School.
Additionally Hillcrest and Rose Witcher elementary schools will be renovated and have five classrooms built on for about $1.7 million each.
Roblyer Middle School will have a three-classroom expansion and renovations, and Etta Dale Junior High will have repairs.
Voters also approved $500,000 of the bond money to go to transportation needs.
Tuesday was a small election of only special issues put forth by schools and municipalities.
In February voters will select school board members in districts across the state in an annual schools election.