2017 Bond Project Update
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, Putnam City voters went to the polls and overwhelmingly approved a $22 million bond proposal. There was no tax increase associated with the proposal. Approval of the bond proposal by voters allows the district to continue to invest in ongoing projects related to classroom instruction at every school, student and staff health and safety, completion of a new middle school and new school buses to replace some of the aging buses in the district’s fleet. Below is information on the items included in the bond proposal.
Technology for Learning
In the past decade, technology has had a major impact in U.S. classrooms on the way teaching and learning happens. We are now in the digital era of education, a time in which students use technology to work with each other on projects, read textbooks, conduct research, submit homework to teachers, write reports and make presentations.
Putnam City a Leader in Technology
Putnam City is at the forefront in the use of technology for teaching and learning. In February 2013 voters in the Putnam City school district approved a $6 million bond proposal that brought 10,000 iPads to the district. Other funding sources, including grants, were tapped to add 6,000 more, giving the district about 16,000 iPads for its 19,400 students.
The Bond Proposal
The district is now able to take the next step. Voter approval of the bond proposal will make funds available to purchase additional devices so that every student in every classroom will have one available for use. This can be done with no tax increase for district taxpayers.
Learning with Digital Textbooks
The addition of more devices opens the door to the use of digital textbooks and the learning opportunities that come with them. Devices can be loaded with all the digital texts that students need so they have them available at school. And since digital textbooks may also be accessed on computers at home or the public library, or even students’ own phones or tablets, creating digital textbooks means they are available 24 hours a day to students.
What’s more, digital textbooks contain all the content of traditional textbooks but go much further by linking text to additional articles, historic videos, online animations to explain complex processes and much more. Because digital texts can cover a topic and link to a world of other resources, they offer extraordinary opportunities for student discovery, learning and understanding.
There are other reasons digital textbooks are better than traditional printed textbooks:
- Digital textbooks are up to date. Traditional printed textbooks are up-to-date only the moment they are printed. After that, day by day and year by year, they become increasingly out of date. Digital textbooks developed by Putnam City will be updated each year, and more often if needed.
- Digital textbooks don’t wear out. Their pages don’t get torn, they don’t have spines that break and pages don’t fall out or get torn out.
- Digital textbooks meet Oklahoma standards. Oklahoma has its own unique educational standards that specify what students should learn and when they should learn it. Digital texts can follow those standards exactly. Traditional textbooks are created for a nationwide audience.
Saving Dollars with Digital Textbooks
Digital textbooks save money. For example, if the district were to purchase new math textbooks for students in grades 6 and 7, the cost would be around $90 per book, or $234,000 overall. Instead, this year district teachers worked together using open source digital textbooks, online resources and state standards to create 6th-grade and 7th-grade math textbooks in digital form. That effort cost just $12,416 – a savings of $221,684 when compared to traditional printed textbooks.
Add in textbooks for other subjects taken by students in grades 6 and 7, and then add in students in all the other grade levels and all the subjects for which they need textbooks, and cost savings from moving to digital textbooks over time escalate into millions of dollars, savings that outweigh the cost of the iPads.
Technology for Health and Safety
Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Each year more than 300,000 Americans succumb to sudden cardiac death. While it’s most common in adults, it can happen to people at any age.
Defibrillation, which can be provided by automated external defibrillators (AEDs), delivers an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat. An AED restores a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest and is an-easy to-use tool even for people with no medical background.
Because each minute defibrillation is delayed decreases the victim’s chances of survival decreases by 10 percent, it’s important to have AEDs close at hand. While Putnam City has 27 schools, the district needs 78 AEDS so that larger schools will have several AEDs. By putting AEDs in different parts of large school, an AED will always be close by should it be needed. There will also be additional AEDs that can travel with teams and groups attending off-campus events.
An Oklahoma law passed in April 2008 requires that every school have AEDs if federal funds or donations from private organizations make it possible. The district purchased AEDs at that time using MAPS for Kids funds. (MAPS for Kids funds are no longer available.) The warranty on those AEDs has now expired, and all of them have an expected out-of-warranty life of three to five years. Bond funds will assure this lifesaving technology is always available in district schools.
Bond funding will do more than purchase new AEDs. It will also be used to add safety features on buses, with bond funds providing GPS capability so that administrators can pinpoint the location of all buses at all times, a feature that could be crucial in an emergency.
Capps Middle School Completion
This item allows for completion of a new Capps Middle School. In the Putnam City 2014 bond election voters approved the construction of new Capps Middle School to replace the aging, inefficient building now in use. There are parts of the existing school that go back to the 1940s, by far the oldest learning spaces still used in the district. The building is constructed with wood framing and joists, which are more susceptible to fire than modern buildings. Classrooms are small and the building is not energy efficient in roofing, walls, windows or doors. In addition, the building would require addition of three elevators and two stair lifts along with major renovation of the existing restrooms to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The new school building will include rooms that double as tornado shelter space large enough to protect all students, staff and visitors. The new building will provide a safer, healthier, better learning environment in a more energy-efficient structure. Additional funding to complete the school is needed because the initial cost estimate was too low.
New Buses for Student Transportation
Each day about 7,000 to 8,000 students ride school buses to Putnam City schools, and another 400 to 500 students travel to various activities across the city and state. This item allows for $2.4 million to be made available for purchase of new regular and special education buses to replace buses manufactured in the early 2000s.
Why are new buses better? There are many reasons.
• New buses are lighter and more fuel efficient.
• New buses produce a lower level of emissions.
• New buses have increased driver visibility in the front of the bus.
• New buses have LED lights that are much brighter and last longer than incandescent bulbs.
• New buses have a seven-camera DVR to record behavior of students on the bus.
• New buses have reflective white roofs can lower the temperature inside the bus by 15 degrees on a hot day.
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Services says 12 to 15 years is the life span of a regular school bus while 8 to 10 years is the life span of a special needs bus. The district currently has 40 regular buses that are 12 to 15 years old and 17 special needs buses that are 8 to 10 years old.
With funds from the bond sale the district will be able to purchase about 20 new buses. Seventy-one-passenger regular buses currently cost about $90,000 each while special needs buses cost about $110,000 each. At the time of purchase the district would assess needs and purchase the kinds and numbers of buses that would meet those needs.