OISD to seek $8.3 mln bonds

OISD to seek $8.3 mln bonds


The Olney Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted last week to seek support for a $8.35 million bond issue on the May 4 ballot to pay for upgrades to campus storm shelters and add classrooms for state-mandated programs.

The plan adopted by the school board would not raise property taxes but would obligate the school district to the current rate of 19 cents per $100 valuation for 20 years, assuming current interest rates of about 4 percent, according to Nick Bulaich of Hilltop Securities, who attended the meeting.

The school board hashed out the plans for the hardened hallways, classrooms, and shelters in the daycare, elementary, junior high school, and high school with the architects, engineers, and bankers during a twohour meeting on Feb. 8.

They settled on a plan to use general obligation bonds to build a secure corridor between the high school and gymnasium and a storm shelter and intermediate wing with seven new classrooms at the junior high school, as well as a secure corridor between the band hall and the Career and Technology Education Center [CTE].

The board also agreed to use OISD funds to make recommended security renovations to the elementary school and renovations to the daycare corridor to an existing storm shelter. The board rejected as too expensive a proposal to construct a full shelter at the high school with a special needs classroom and a large science lab addition.

“We’re here because of the comprehensive safety plan,” OISD Superintendent Dr. Greg Roach told the board. “We need to enhance the storm shelter … and we need room for pre-K, emergent bilingual and special ed [classes]. We wanted to try and kill five birds with one stone.”

The new junior high classrooms would allow the district to retire a portable classroom that is now used for occupational and physical therapy, he said.

Dr. Roach described

the $6.68 million plan to construct a storm shelter in the junior high as critical. “The junior high is naked as a jaybird,” he said.

The elementary school has “hardened” hallways that can survive a severe tornado with winds of up to 250 mph. High school and junior high students are evacuated to the gym under the bleachers or to classrooms with concrete ceilings, Dr. Roach said.

School Trustee Mark McClelland said the district “is doing this because of Jacksboro - we need to keep the kids safe.”

Jacksboro Independent School District is still rebuilding after a tornado ripped the roofs off the elementary and high schools and gym while students and staff were inside on March 21, 2022.

Olney Police Chief Dan Birbeck, who has worked with the OISD to implement a plan created by security analyst Defenbaugh & Associates, said the storm shelters are a priority, and not just for storms.

“These kids having to go outside to get to shelter in a different building is not optimal … This will give them the means to traverse to a safe place without going outside and being put in harm’s way,” Chief Birbeck said. “This is a good step. It connects the buildings … not just for storm safety but for student safety. It prevents any other nefarious activity from happening” Voters must approve the bonds on the May 4 municipal election ballot.

The bond issue comes two years after voters rejected a proposed $6 million bond issue to fix the baseball fields on the east side of town.