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Bethel Acres community passes $18.4 million bond issue

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Bethel voters passed the bond issue.

Members of the Bethel Acres community went to the polls Tuesday and voted yes on a $18.4 million bond issue for Bethel Public Schools. 

To pass, the bond needed to receive a 60 percent majority vote. According to the Oklahoma Election Board results, the bond had 595 people or 67.61 percent voting yes and 285 people or 32.39 percent voting no. 

According to Superintendent Tod Harrison, he’s grateful to the community for believing in the district and he’s looking forward to the next step. 

“Thank you to the Bethel community for your vote of confidence in our plan for the future of Bethel Public Schools,” Harrison said. “Our students and staff are validated by the vote. We will now begin the process to make this bond issue a reality.” 

Harrison said the district will soon put the bonds up for bid and start the beginning stages of the projects from the bond. 

“Our architect will begin to formulate final plans and begin working with our construction manager,” Harrison said. “Those timelines have yet to be set. We will communicate that information as it comes available. We know everyone is excited to see construction begin.”  

Harrison said the bond total is $18,390,000 and it will be used for two entities, including a new facility for elementary students and a new activity center.

“The bond will be used to build a new 38,000 square foot school facility to serve our (third), (fourth) and (fifth) grade classes to replace existing metal buildings and portable facilities those grades are currently housed in,” Harrison said.

The administrator also said this portion of the bond will be beneficial to grades pre-K through fifth grade because it will provide them with additional security. 

“It will (allow students) inside access to the new library, music room, art room, computer room and FEMA storm shelter and gym to serve grades (pre-K and fifth),” Harrison said. “These classes now have to go outside to attend these classes in other buildings.”

Harrison said there will be five classrooms for each grade to insure the district is ready for future growth and there will be safety fencing placed around the entire elementary playground.

The administrator said in addition to the elementary facility the district plans to use the bond to remodel the competition gym into a new activity center. 

“This will include enlarging of public restrooms, remodeled locker rooms, new uniform storage and laundry rooms, lobby renovation, new upstairs seating, complete ADA compliance and gym floor upgrades,” Harrison said. 

The superintendent said this renovation will also include new heat and air conditioning, a new weight room, coaches offices, performance stage, equipment storage, elevator, hospitality room and conference room.

“The entire front of the gym will also receive a major facelift that will reflect the new state of the art facility it will be,” Harrison said. 

Harrison said the bond will not increase taxes and the calculation of the bond is based on staying at the current tax rate. 

Harrison said overall, the facilities from this bond will be great for all the students in the district.

“Our students will greatly benefit by attending in one connected facility,” Harrison said. “New technology upgrades will be incorporated throughout the building. Projected growth has been accounted for and this facility will continue to serve and benefit future Bethel Wildcats for years to come.” 

The administrator said this bond will keep the district’s promise of a new upper elementary facility and it’s promise to better serve its students. 

“Bethel Public Schools are committed to the future of our students and community,” Harrison said. “The passing of this bond will secure Bethel's ability to move forward and plan for our students continued success in safe, secure and modern facilities.”