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On May 7, 2019, Lawton Community Schools voters will consider a $4.5 million bond proposal for renovations to Lawton Elementary School.
The Board of Education and Administration have been engaged in a facility assessment process of the elementary campus since the summer of 2016. The basis for that work has been a Facility Assessment conducted by Tower Pinkster architects who identified several areas at the elementary campus that were in poor condition and in need of renovation. The main wings of the elementary building were built in 1954 and 1962. The wear and tear of 60+ years of use is visible in many areas. The original estimates called for approximately $7.8 million to bring the building up to an acceptable standard.
Much of the Board’s analysis has focused on how best to meet our facility needs in a manner that is responsible to taxpayers. In December of 2017, the district approved a QZAB project that has addressed lighting upgrades across the district and also a new HVAC system at the elementary school. This work is nearly complete. The QZAB project allowed the district to borrow $2.44 million dollars at zero interest payable over a 15 year term. Choosing this option for a significant portion of the renovation project has allowed the Board to reduce the bond funds needed from the original $7.8 million to the $4.5 reflected in the bond proposal.
A successful bond issue would allow:
- A new, secure entrance also on the east side of the building. The new entrance would require all visitors to enter a secure foyer before being allowed access to the building. This secure, single point of entry would greatly enhance the overall safety of the building.
- Relocation of the main and guidance offices to the east side of the building. The new office would significantly increase the size of the office and the ability to provide adequate service to students, staff, and visitors.
- Renovation of the current office and entry spaces into a large room that would better meet the program and service needs of our Special Education students.
- Resurfacing of a majority of the building roof areas.
- Demolition of the three-story former middle and high school building. This building has sections built in 1915 and 1930. Maintaining the unoccupied floors of this building is simply not a good use of funds.
- Designated spaces for programs currently housed in the three story building. (Daycare and Alternative Education)
- Upgraded restrooms throughout the building with main restrooms brought up to ADA standards.
- Minor improvements to classroom finishes, flooring, and furniture.
- Replacement of many interior and exterior doors.
- A new fire alarm system.
If approved, the bond proposal would levy an additional 0.5 mils on assessed properties. This additional millage would bring the total millage for school debt to 9.6 mils. Based on conservative taxable value estimates, this millage rate would remain in place through 2032. It would then drop to 2.09 mils in the following year and then to zero in 2033.
The Board of Education and Bond Steering Committee considered many bonding options before settling on the 0.5 mil increase. A home with a taxable value of $100,000 would see an annual increase of $50. Some might ask, ‘why not just extend the current millage rate?’ Doing so would result in approximately $700,000 in additional interest paid by taxpayers over the term of the bond. Although the 0.5 mil increase will result in a slight annual increase to annual property taxes, the interest saved provides a more responsible long-term approach to funding the renovation project.
Questions, comments and concerns are always welcomed and should be directed to Superintendent Chris Rice at 624-7901 or email@example.com.