Editor’s Note: As the September 14, 2021 bond election looms, occasional Ada News contributor Pat Fountain recently sat down with Ada City Schools Superintendent Mike Anderson to talk about the issuance of bonds that voters are invited to adopt. Today we will look at the process that led to the upcoming vote, the need for new facilities and what will happen to the old school centers.
Before I could barely pull out my yellow notebook, put my pens away, and get comfortable in Mike Anderson’s modest office at the back of Ada City’s central school systems office, he said one thing very clearly. . The first thing we were going to talk about was the cost of what the project would be for the citizens of Ada. Because, he says, it’s the most important thing people need to know.
“People need to know what they are being asked to do,” he said.
“We have been completely transparent and do not try to hide anything from anyone,” he said. “It’s not something I invented myself and that will be up to the voters to decide.
“It’s something that will come at a high price, but many believe it’s something we need to do now for the future. This bond initiative is an investment in our students, in our schools and in our community.”
To his dismay, I told him we would get there and asked him my first question. And we will get there.
“This proposal is the result of a broad strategic planning initiative that has included input from parents, teachers, staff and community stakeholders,” he replied when I asked about the process to arrive at the bond proposal.
He explained that the process started just over three years ago and that the plan was unveiled during the 2018-19 school year.
“The strategic plan that was developed provided for the creation of two new elementary-level centers, as well as improvements in all sites in the district,” he said. “The plan also included vehicles to better meet our transportation needs. “
State law requires carriage obligations to be voted on separately, so there are actually two proposals to be decided on in the vote.
Anderson said the process began with the Strategic Planning Committee reviewing past strategies and practices with the aim of identifying successes and failures. A thorough examination was then launched on the current state and what the district hoped to become.
By doing this and listening to stakeholders, the committee was able to identify and develop key areas, goals and actions to help move Ada City schools forward in the effort to achieve the school system’s mission. .
This mission is: “To prepare all students to be engaged and successful citizens with the social, academic and professional skills necessary for success in a global society”.
And now, on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 and in early voting, Ada voters are being asked to approve two bond proposals totaling $ 74,160,000 for facilities and $ 400,000 for transportation needs.
For local taxpayers, the cost will be $ 1.00 per month for $ 100 of 2020/2021 property taxes paid.
Why do we need new schools?
Anderson explained that it’s not because they’re old. But because the number of rooms in school buildings, the purpose for which the rooms were built in the 1950s and 1960s and what the rooms can be used for limits the ability of the school system to expand what they are capable of. do for students.
“Our teachers do amazing things with what we have,” he explained. “We are ranked 22nd best high school in Oklahoma by US News and World Report.
“We continually have students and groups receiving national and national recognition for their accomplishments in music, drama, speech, theater and our new aviation program.”
He assured me that nothing was broken and that all was well with the Ada town school system and its students. The “system” is doing much better than just getting out of it.
So why are new school buildings needed now?
The answer was simple, honest, realistic and sincere.
“In today’s world, if you are still, you are going backwards,” he explained. “To move forward, to continue to improve and to see our students continue to do great things and reach even greater heights, we need new facilities.”
“And the longer we wait, the more it will cost,” he continued. “It is now.”
Ada students successfully learn in educational environments designed to teach six grade levels of ‘reading’, writing and ‘arithmetic’ using technology including chalkboards, film strips and, up to in the 1970s, handouts.
When the Washington and Willard school centers were built, most students walked to school, and field trips were rare. There were no thoughts or dreams of science labs, calculators or computers let alone flight simulators. (NOTE: For readers unfamiliar with film and handouts, ask your grandparents. For readers unfamiliar with flight simulators, ask your grandchildren!).
After listening to Anderson speak to a local civic group, one listener compared it to a car race because, well, he said, “Life is a race and those who are best equipped to race will do better.
“Those who are best equipped for the race will win the race,” he explained. “We expect our students to win a car race in the future when they are driven in cars over 60 years old.
“You won’t see 1960s cars in the Indianapolis 500 this year, imagine taking a 1960 driver and putting him in one of today’s race cars and expecting him to do well.
“This is what we do to our students. When they go to a university or to a trade school, to the military or to a job, they will be far behind those who have been trained in schools with the latest designs, security and functionality ADA and Technology. “
“Ada’s students win races and compete, but imagine how much better they could be if they could be on the same level of play as these runners with the best equipment.”
What will become of the old schools?
Anderson laughed as he answered.
“It’s pretty simple when you think about it, but pretty complicated to explain without a blackboard,” he said.
After talking with him, I went home and turned what I thought he said into a painting. (NOTE: he checked and made some corrections. So now that’s really how he explained it.)
Who is going where and when? In three easy steps (to explain anyway) here is what will happen.
Step One) When the new school for first, second and third year students opens, these classes will meet there.
Stage Two) During the Washington demolition and construction of the new school for the fourth and fifth graders, the fourth graders will be in Hayes (the third graders will be at the new school).
Step Three) When the new school for fourth and fifth graders opens at the old Washington site, fourth and fifth graders will meet there, and sixth graders will likely move to Hayes while the Current Willard building is undergoing renovation and modernization. It will depend on the amount of work to be done and when the work can be done at Willard. We hope that much of this can be done in the summer.
When completed) Grades 1, 2 and 3 will be in a new school on a new site. Fourth and fifth graders will be in a new school at the current Washington site, and sixth graders will be in the current Willard building after its renovation and modernization. Seventh, eighth and ninth graders will be in current middle school and 10th, 11th and 12th graders will be in current high school.
Why keep the old Willard Building and not start there?
We can only ask Anderson for so much explanation. He said a lot of what is done at Willard will depend on the project budget and the funds available.
“It was the building best suited to be modernized and renovated to be comparable to new buildings,” he said. “It will be a great home and educational facility for our sixth graders.”
He added that the building has a great location in the center of Ada and across from East Central University.
“Our students are on the ECU campus several times a year for a variety of cultural, learning, athletic and other activities and we want that to continue,” he said.
“Few schools can send their students across the street on the inexpensive, valuable and educational field trips that we can organize with East Central or that they invite us to take our students to.”