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Five MPS sites identified for future bond renovations

Mustang Public Schools officials identified five schools of its 17 that need major HVAC renovations from future bond issues at the Monday board of education meeting.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Jason Pittenger presented an HVAC review of each district site to board members. He discussed each school’s system, controls, preventative maintenance and issues.

While each school needs HVAC upgrades in some capacity, Mustang Trails Elementary, Lakehoma Elementary, Mustang North Middle School, Mustang South Middle School and areas of Mustang High School need the most renovations, Pittenger said. 

Trails was built in 1990 and underwent additions in 2005 and 2008.

It needs controls upgrades and a complete HVAC renovation.

Lakehoma, which Pittenger said is No. 1 on the list for HVAC repairs, was built in 1978 and had additions in 2010. It also needs updated controls and major system renovations. 

North was built in 1984 and experienced additions in 2004 and 2005. Upgraded controls and a new system are also needed.

South was built in 1999. Partial renovations were completed in 2018.

Mustang Elementary, Mustang Horizon Intermediate, Mustang Creek Elementary, Mustang Valley Elementary and Centennial Elementary also experienced renovations from the 2018 bond issue.

South needs a water source heat pump replacement and air-conditioning installed in the gym. MHS was built in 1960 and was renovated in 2012. It also needs controls upgrades and equipment replacements.

The district’s four journeymen, who ensure all sites’ equipment is running smoothly, maintain 2.3 million-square-feet. Throughout the 2020-2021 fiscal year, there were 823 work orders.

There are also ongoing renovations at the high school’s Media Center, E Hall and some Fine Arts areas, due to damages from the October 2020 ice storm and the February 2021 winter storms. Other HVAC challenges consist of:

• the expense of maintaining all licensed trade equipment;

• products that are no longer available in the U.S. and;

• IT technology rooms, which have individual HVAC systems, can overheat and cause loss of data if storms knock them out.

District recovering from revenue shortfall

At the beginning of the 2020 school year, the district anticipated having a funding shortage, due to the pandemic, Superintendent Charles Bradley said.

MPS began the 2020-2021 year with a shortfall of $8.3 million from the previous year.

Federal funds came to the district at different times. CARES Act funds of $610,316 were received June 2020, which is “pretty much gone,” Bradley said.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II funds of $2.3 million were received April 2021. The federal government used each school district’s number of free and reduced students to determine funding amounts.

ESSER II funds from the state superintendent of $4.5 million were received April 29. Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma superintendent of public instruction, received funds to be distributed to state schools at her discretion.

ESSER II from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund of $152,525 were received June 17. Gov. Kevin Stitt also had funds to be distributed at his discretion.

ESSER III from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan of $5.2 million will be received Aug. 31.

A Counselor Corps. grant of $534,000 was received July 1 from the state department of education. The district will add two counselors and one recreational therapist, which the board approved Monday.

The districtwide recreational therapist will work with students, who have social and emotional needs. They are activity-based to help students develop social skills and regulate behavior.

Therapy ranges from art to music activities.

“It’s another level of support for our kids,” recreational therapist Katrina Hime said.

The district has the potential to be reimbursed $12.7 million.

“You don’t receive a check for these amounts,” Bradley said. “You’re awarded an amount and when you spend, you receive that back as a reimbursement. It’s not a check sitting in the bank, waiting on us.”

MPS has already received all CARES Act funds back, as well as a $300,000 incentive, which has returned to the district’s fund balance, Chief Financial Officer Nancy McKay said.

About $230,000 of the CARES funds was spent on certified staff, which was most of the funds. Approximately $100,000 was for support staff; another $100,000 was set aside for technology; $80,000 was for Canvas and $40,000 was for the district’s seven mindsets initiative, Bradley said.

It takes about three weeks for the district to receive reimbursements after submission, McKay added.

“Every pot of money has to have a plan of how we’re going to spend it,” she said.

The funding will focus on stabilizing staffing across the district and ensuring classrooms have resources, like technology.

“We’re not in any rush to spend it all upfront,” Bradley said.

The district has three years to spend the funds. Long and short-term expenditures will be considered.

Bradley said the 2021-2022 school year will be a good funding year in terms of local and state revenue.

Data shows more students had ‘F’s’ in virtual format than those in classrooms 

As of Monday, elementary, intermediate and middle school enrolled students are lower this school year compared to the end of the 2020-2021 year. However, many students are archived, meaning their parents have not yet completed their enrollment forms.

Enrolled high school students have increased as of Monday from May 20.

An email went out to families Tuesday with a survey to determine if they wanted their children to still be enrolled in virtual learning. The deadline to switch from virtual to traditional or vice versa is July 25.

Most students are enrolled in traditional learning.

Apart from enrollment, Stacy Edwards, assistant superintendent of elementary education, and Ryan McKinney, assistant superintendent of secondary education, have looked at how grades were affected throughout the past three years. They collected data on the percentage of students with at least one “F.”

Each year was different, especially due to COVID-19 freezing grades, where they could only go up a letter or remain the same, McKinney said. The 2020-2021 school year was the first to implement virtual learning.

Data indicated more students had “F’s” in a virtual format compared to those in traditional classrooms. Virtual students were twice as likely to fail a course than those learning in classrooms.

The highest “F’s” were among sophomores throughout each school year.

To address the failure rates, all students are being evaluated for their best placement. There must be a medical document of proof for a student to remain in virtual learning.

The district has also created the Director of Educational Technology position to provide more support for virtual students.

MHS has restructured assistant principals and counselors to address students who have fallen behind or need more help. There will now be a Multi-Tiered Support System for the first time to lead these supports.

In health and learning news, the district approved the 2021-2022 plan that will continually be updated by the board until December.

In board news, deputy clerk Jeff Landrith was absent.

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