Members decide on $250k transportation bond

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

The Pawhuska Board of Education on Monday decided it prefers to consider calling a bond vote this year on a relatively small school transportation bond, while otherwise paying down debt.

Superintendent David Cash offered the board three options — skip having a bond vote this year at all and just pay down debt; do a relatively small $250,000 bond issue to address the school district’s transportation needs; or call for a vote on a larger bond issue to respond to facilities needs.

The board chose to go the transportation bond route, though school district officials acknowledged that a building project could be popular if it were to include a community safe room.

“I know having a safe room is a big issue for our community,” assistant superintendent Beverly Moore said. Board member Scott Laird agreed, saying both a storm shelter and an improved high school parking lot are important needs.

The board talked about possibly seeking assistance from the Osage Nation with the parking lot, and Maintenance Director Dean Hix suggested contacting the ON’s Transportation Department. Addie Roanhorse, an ON employee and soon to be a member of the Board of Education, was on-hand Monday evening to observe and was present for the discussion of the parking lot.

The board also learned from Cash that Pawhuska Public Schools will be among beneficiaries of recent litigation regarding state license plate revenues that are distributed to schools. The superintendent explained that license plate revenues had been apportioned in an unconstitutional manner in 2016, with some fast-growing school districts receiving more than their proper share.

For the next 13 months Pawhuska should see an increase in license plate revenues coming its way. The total should come to about $220,000, Cash said, but he cautioned it will be one-time money rather than recurring over the long term.

“For us that’s a big deal,” Cash said. He told the board he feels good about where Pawhuska Public Schools is this fiscal year, with regard to revenues coming in from the state, but he expressed concern about what could happen in the next fiscal year. He indicated that PPS may have to be ready to take precautions by cutting some budgets marginally to avoid becoming overextended.