County panel approves of bond sales for two school projects

Funding was approved Monday for two major projects involving local schools.

The Board of Trustees of the Canadian County Educational Facility Authority voted unanimously to approve the issuance of $27 million in bond for Canadian Valley Technology Center, and up to $55 million in bonds for the Piedmont School District.

Piedmont’s bonds were approved last August by voters and will be used to construct an addition to the high school as well as new multi-use structures at Northwood Elementary and Piedmont Elementary schools.

Seventy-four percent of voters approved the measure, which also includes the construction of a new early education center

Athletic facilities and band uniforms also are expected to be upgraded through the funds.

The bond issue, which was approved last August, was actually for $71 million. However, officials said Monday they expect to only sell between $51 million and $55 million.

The bonds are expected to be paid off in 2028.

Superintendent Dr. James White did not return phone calls requesting comment on the bond issue projects.

Meanwhile, officials with the Canadian Valley Technology Center plan to sell up to $27 million in bonds to expand the campus they returned to earlier this year as well as the Yukon site, said Dr. Greg Winters, the technology center’s superintendent.

Officials returned to the El Reno campus in January after having spent 2 ½ years operating from a former car dealership in Yukon. A tornado in 2013 decimated the El Reno campus.

Winters said the campus had to turn away more than 250 students at the beginning of the school year because of lack of space.

Deputy Superintendent Gayla Lutts said the plan is to add a 40,000-square-foot wing at the El Reno campus and convert the Yukon campus at 15 Street and Czech Hall Road to a medical course-only campus.

Currently programs like pre-engineering are offered at the Yukon campus.

Winters said they would move the pre-engineering program as well as the aviation programs back to the El Reno campus. That also would allow high school students to participate in those programs.

Winters said the bond issue did not need to be approved by voters because the technology center’s district encompasses eight counties and its valuation was well over $1 billion. That makes its bonding capacity above $171 million.

Winters said the technology center is using less than 2 mills of its 5 mills in building fund monies.

The district’s use of building funds will remain well below 2 mills, even with the additional monies needed for the expansion projects.

Property owners will not see any increase in taxes related to the new bond money.

Because the bond money will come from an already approved source of funds, the district also will save on interest rates, Winters said.

While both bond sales were approved by the educational authority, they still must be approved by the county commissioners. That is expected to happen during next Tuesday’s meeting.

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