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Shawnee schools complete several 2016 bond projects, prepare for Aug.25 bond election

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
There were many updates made to Shawnee High School including the Stucker Athletic Facility, the cafeteria and the security vestibule.
There were many updates made to Shawnee High School including the Stucker Athletic Facility, the cafeteria and the security vestibule.
There were many updates made to Shawnee High School including the Stucker Athletic Facility, the cafeteria and the security vestibule.

After four years Shawnee Public Schools has completed most of its 2016 bond issue projects and is preparing for the next bond issue election on Aug. 25 which will total $18.125 million.

According to Superintendent Dr. April Grace, the district is proud of the progress it has made regarding the 2016 bond improvements.

“The 2016 bond projects were scheduled to be finished by 2026, and we have already completed almost all of them,” Grace said.

The completed 2016 projects include: secure entrances at Shawnee Middle School, Horace Mann Elementary School, Sequoyah Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School and Will Rogers Elementary School, safe rooms and classrooms at Jefferson, safe rooms and classrooms at Horace Mann, classrooms at Sequoyah, new parking lot at Shawnee High School, new science classrooms and special education classroom at SHS, ADA compliant seating at Jim Thorpe Elementary School, new parking lot at Jefferson, the SHS Stucker Athletic Facility with safe rooms, SHS security vestibules, SHS library renovation, SHS band and choir rooms enhancements and SHS softball dugouts. 

Grace said there are only four projects either still in progress but will be completed soon or are set to begin very soon. 

Those projects yet to be completed but are expected to be done in August or September include upgrades to the SHS baseball concession and restrooms and upgrades to the SHS cafeteria.

Grace said two projects will be completed soon and they include the new elementary school and safe rooms at Will Rogers. 

“The only major project still unfinished is the new elementary school,” Grace said. “Sadly, the pandemic interrupted our ability to enter into the full design process with the architect.” 

The administrator said the district had to focus mainly on feeding children in the community but anticipate opening the new elementary school during the 2022-2023 school year.

While things are coming to a close with the 2016 bond election, Grace said the district is now preparing for the Aug. 25 bond issue election which will also provide several projects designed to improve SPS.

“The Student Investment Plan that voters will see on the ballot Aug. 25 has many projects that, if passed, will benefit our schools and our community,” Grace said. Every project in the 2020 plan is an effort to make our schools safer and better equipped to serve the children of Shawnee.”

Grace said the investment plan is made up of two propositions, with one being $16,925,000 for school site improvements and the other being $1.2 million for transportation.

The Student Investment Plan, Grace said includes buses and other student transportation, HVAC and roofing repair or replacement (district-wide), elementary site improvements, technology infrastructure and equipment, improved parking at multiple sites including  Sequoyah, Horace Mann and Shawnee High School softball field area, safety and security enhancements (upgraded Integrated Camera Systems), additional uniforms and equipment, upgraded A/V tech at Performing Arts & Athletic Center, new turf and PA system at Jim Thorpe Stadium, Ag trailer and equipment, softball chair back section and one set of four new retention concrete tennis courts at SHS.

“Good school facilities that are safe and attractive help us recruit teachers and families to our district,” Grace said. “Turf at Jim Thorpe Stadium, up-to-date AV equipment at our PAAC and improved facilities will give us more opportunities to host state-level athletic and performing arts competitions.” 

Grace also said events such as these will bring in more revenue or the community as visitors explore Shawnee. 

The administrator said to pass, the bond issues need a 60 percent supermajority vote. If it does not pass, however, Grace said the district will continue to fix any major maintenance issues. 

In addition, Grace said the average homeowner in Shawnee’s I-93 school district would pay approximately $3 more per month or $36 per year in property taxes if the Student Investment Plan is passed.

Due to COVID-19, Grace said the election was rescheduled and because of this the Oklahoma State Election board has made changes to its absentee ballot procedures and deadlines for people to vote.

“The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. Aug. 18,” Grace said. “You may vote early at the Pottawatomie County Election Board Aug. 20 and 21 from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day, and Saturday, Aug. 22, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.”

Grace said regular voting will be Aug. 25 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at local polling stations. 

For more information regarding the Student Investment Plan or changes made to absentee voting procedures visit Student Investment Plan Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Oklahoma State Election Board - Absentee_Voter_Verification.