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School bond projects near completion

Three Mustang Public Schools projects that complete the work funded by a $180 million bond issue are moving toward completion.

A glass front to the lobby provides a distinctive look for the Mustang Public Schools’ performing arts center, which is under construction. Photo / Chris Eversole

This shows that the board of education is meeting the promises it made when voters approved the bond issue in 2017, Superintendent Charles Bradley said.
The status of the projects is:
• A two-story addition to the freshman hallway at the high school is on schedule to be completed by the end of fall break.
• A project creating a new athletic and band practice field and an addition to the fieldhouse is due to be finished in December.
• The performing arts center is expected to open in late February.
The freshman addition responds to the growing high school enrollment, Bradley said.
The practice field will be equipped with artificial turf, lights and a director’s stand.
The expansion of the fieldhouse includes providing storage for the band.
The project also will create a retention pond, which will lessen flooding in the nearby neighborhood, which doesn’t have city stormwater sewers, said Heath Tate, the principal of MA+ Architecture.
The practice field is being built on the site of the former school administration building, an outdated structure that was replaced by the Mustang Education Resource Center on South Mustang Road.
The performing arts center includes a black box theater as well as the main stage.
The project budget is nearly $33.4 million, which includes building costs, architect fees and financing.
Other projects the bond issue funded included Central Middle School, Riverwood Elementary School, Meadow Brook Intermediate School and the high school science academy.
“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 board of education had planned to place a $47 million bond issue on the April 7 ballot, but it postponed the vote because of the COVID-19 crisis – originally to the Aug. 25 primarily runoff election.
On June 4, the board scrapped the August proposal, which would have built a new elementary school and converted the current Mustang Elementary School into a pre-K center.
Bradley said the administration had concluded a different approach is needed in light of changes in needs and projected revenue.
The school district should focus more on tools for distance learning that came to light because of the pandemic, and it must find ways to offset revenue losses due to anticipated lowered funding, Bradley said.
He plans to present an alternative bond issue proposal to the board in July, but some board members said they are hesitant about moving forward on a November vote.
“I wouldn’t put a rush on it right now,” Board President Chad Schroeder said.

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