By Chris Eversole
The Mustang Public School District is delivering on the promises it made about the $180 million bond issue voters approved Feb. 14.
Construction began this summer on a new elementary school at 44th Street and Czech Hall Road and a new intermediate school (serving fifth- and sixth-graders) at 15th Street and Czech Hall Road, Deputy Superintendent Charles Bradley said.
Both are expected to open in the fall of 2018.
The school board, on Friday, approved design plans for a new middle school (serving seventh- and eighth-graders) that is expected to open at the beginning of the 2019 school year.
The three schools that are in the works will increase the number of schools from 13 to 16.
The board also approved design plans for a new science academy, educational resource center, tennis courts and soccer facility.
“We’re meeting the needs of our growing district,” Bradley said. “It’s hard to explain how strongly we want to demonstrate our appreciation of the confidence the voters showed they have in us.”
The new bond issue replaced an expiring one, resulting in no increase in property taxes, he noted. Although it will be levied for 12 years, the construction it covers will be completed within three to five years.
“We’re borrowing money so we can beat inflation and keep up with our needs,” Bradley said. “If we hadn’t done this construction, we would have experienced overcrowding.”
Growth continues to be strong, with the student census as of the Oct. 1 official count for the school expected to be more than 400 students higher than last year’s census, Bradley said.
This would bring the total students to 11,439, a 39 percent increase from the 8,222 when school opened 10 years ago.
“We continue to expect a 3 percent growth rate each year, with much of the growth near Trails Elementary in the northwest part of the district,” he said.
The school district began developing a long-range plan in 2014.
“We had two years of planning involving the community, the city and the county,” Bradley said. “We developed good plans that articulated the public’s vision.”
The new high school science academy, which will be at the site of the former PE building, will complete the process of reinventing the high school – an effort that began in 2009.
“Our planning committee, made up of teachers and principals, is working hard to make the science center function in the best way possible in line with the needs of STEM education,” Bradley said.
The new tennis courts will replace the existing ones, which are in a space at the center of the high school. Moving them to between the high school and the middle school will make it possible for middle-schoolers to use them.
The new soccer facility will add locker rooms.
The district will use its customary approach in naming schools – running a contest for students to make nominations.
“When we named Horizon Elementary, we had nominations of Ironman School and Captain America School,” Bradley said.