The shutdown of schools across Oklahoma last spring to mitigate community spread of COVID-19 did not stop construction on bond-funded projects in Edmond schools.
To keep class sizes optimal for learning, and provide relief to crowded schools, the district is constructing new schools and renovating others. Bond money pays for the construction of new schools and the upkeep and maintenance of existing facilities.
Redbud Elementary, located on the southeast corner of Douglas Boulevard and Coffee Creek Road, is the district’s newest elementary school and the first to be built east of I-35. It is scheduled to open in 2021.
“With the number of housing developments that have materialized east of I-35 and more going in each day, we anticipate that Redbud will be full upon opening in 2021,” said Superintendent Bret Towne. “Redbud will help to provide relief to full elementary schools in the Northern and Eastern areas of our district,” said Towne.
Bond-funded projects completed or nearing completion this fall include the following:
- Central Middle School gymnasium/storm shelter, front entrance and STEM Center
- Cimarron Middle School media center/storm shelter
- Cross Timbers Elementary media center/storm shelter
- Charles Haskell Elementary gymnasium/storm shelter
- Sequoyah Middle School gymnasium/storm shelter
- Edmond North High School classroom renovations
- Will Rogers Elementary classroom addition/storm shelter
- Tennis Facility (A joint project between the district and the City of Edmond located on 15th Street)
Safety enhancements have also been a significant investment of past bond issues. Nearly $3.7 million has been earmarked on access control at every school. This allows only designated doors to be accessed through a secure card swipe.
“This allows all exterior doors to remain locked,” said Justin Coffelt, Chief Operations Officer for the district. “It is going to make our schools even safer.”
Plans to add cameras at main entrances to allow front office staff to buzz visitors in is underway and Coffelt hopes work will begin soon.
Much of the funds for increased security come out of the $93 million 2019 bond-the 59th bond passed by Edmond voters to support the district.
The district is also nearing its goal of having a storm shelter in every school. The shelters are often hard to distinguish between the existing buildings as many serve a dual function as a media center, gymnasium, or band room. What makes them different is the thicker walls and overhead roll shut doors.
“It is exciting to have all of the shelters nearly done,” Coffelt said.
Summit Middle School is the last one, but Coffelt said the design of the building is advantageous to sheltering in place as it is built into the side of a hill.
Plans for the next bond in February 2021, include increased property acquisition, upgrading older schools across the district and maintenance for buildings across the district.
With devastating cuts to education this year due to the pandemic, Towne said that bonds are how operations across the district continue without using funds designated for instruction.
“The passage of future EPS bond issues will be more crucial than ever as our budget picture is looking very grim for the next several years due to the pandemic. We have to stay on top of maintaining our buildings because there are no other funding sources,” he noted.
The district has already delayed the opening of Scissortail Elementary, located southwest of the intersection of NW 150th St and N. Pennsylvania Ave., due to projected budget issues from the virus. It was scheduled to open in 2021, but the opening date has now been pushed to at least 2022.
The district is planning on constructing a fourth high school sometime in the future that will be located at Air Depot and Covell. The construction timeline for the project has not been determined and depends on growth patterns in the district as well as the passage of future bond issues.