Pawhuska school bond vote is Tuesday

Robert Smith

You may still be recovering from your Labor Day weekend celebration, but there’s important business at-hand for Pawhuskans — particularly for parents of children in the local schools and owners of property.

A school bond election is set for next Tuesday, Sept. 10. At stake is a proposed $250,000 bond issue to buy new school buses. Polling places will be Calvary Baptist Church, at the corner of Lynn Avenue and 15th Street, and the Presbyterian Church, at 101 E. 12th Street. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

For those interested in early voting, the Osage County Election Board office on Kihekah Avenue will be accepting early votes Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the Election Board office at 918-287-3036.

The Pawhuska Board of Education chose to place on the ballot the least-expensive potential bond project placed before it, hoping to have minimal impact on property tax bills.

A 60-percent supermajority of the vote is required to pass the school bond issue.

“If it passes, we hit the ground the next day, starting to get the bid packages,” Superintendent David Cash said. The school district has already talked to transportation vendors, he said.

“It has been real positive,” Cash said regarding community response to the bond election. “I think people see the need.”

Just last week, the district’s Transportation and Maintenance director, Dean Hix, presented Cash with a bill for slightly more than $9,100 for repairs to a bus.

Cash said he asked Hix if this expense was for one of the more rundown buses, and Hix responded, “No, this is one of our good ones.”

New buses that the district could buy with the bond proceeds would be under warranty for the first five years, Cash said.

“It’s really important to upgrade when you can,” Cash said. “It’s just what we have to do.”

According to figures developed by the school district, passage of the transportation bond issue would likely raise the tax bill of someone who previously paid $100 to $102.92 in the following year.

The first-year increase for someone who previously had a tax bill of $500 would likely be $14.62, and the increase for someone who previously paid $1,000 would likely be $29.23.

Pawhuska Public Schools has an aging bus fleet, including some vehicles that are well over a decade old.

Hix said he thinks of the issue in terms similar to replacing a family vehicle to ensure safe transportation. Pawhuska’s buses are used for a lot of rural driving that can put wear and tear on vehicles.