Home U.S. NEWS Brand new Edmond schools are already overcrowded. Here’s a look at where two new schools could go if approved

Brand new Edmond schools are already overcrowded. Here’s a look at where two new schools could go if approved

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Brand new Edmond schools are already overcrowded.  Here’s a look at where two new schools could go if approved

EDMOND — The day Redbud Elementary School opened in 2021, attendance was already beyond capacity, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent Angela Grunewald said.

The population in the northeastern part of the Edmond district, which includes the city of Arcadia, is increasing rapidly, so district officials quickly began planning to add another new elementary school in addition to Redbud. That planning is reflected in a five-year, $147 million bond proposal approved by the Edmond school board last month.

The proposal, which voters will be asked to approve on Feb. 13, includes plans to build a new elementary school and a new middle school at the intersection of Covell Road and Air Depot Boulevard. The district purchased the land in 2013 for $3 million.

Also included in the bond proposal are a new Freshman Academy at Santa Fe High School, classroom expansions at Boulevard Academy (the district’s alternative school) and Scissortail Elementary School, renovations at five other elementary school sites, and the addition of artificial turf softball and… baseball fields at all three high schools (costing a combined $7.5 million) and an upgrade to timing systems at the Mitch Park Aquatic Center as part of the district’s agreement with the YMCA.

Like many school bond proposals, it is in two parts because state law requires transportation items to be voted on separately. Included in the transportation portion of the proposal are new school buses, activity buses and other district vehicles.

Grunewald said if the bond is approved, it will not increase tax rates for county homeowners. The district said it plans its bond issues so that the millage level remains stable between 24 and 25 mills.

“We have some (elementary) buildings that are really overcrowded and we need to relieve pressure on those buildings,” Grunewald said. “The best way to achieve this is to build another school. Central is the middle school that covers East Edmond and it is very overcrowded. This will relieve pressure on Central.”

New Edmond’s elementary and middle schools will be incorporated into Memorial High School

The new $26 million elementary school, which Grunewald said will help relieve pressure on Redbud and Chisholm elementary schools, will be built first, while the new $30 million middle school is planned for later in the bond term. Both new schools would eventually be incorporated into Memorial High School.

The district has already purchased land at the northwest corner of the intersection of Danforth Road and Westminster Road for a possible fourth high school, but Grunewald said it will be more than five years before that property appears in a bond proposal.

The $18 million, two-story Freshman Academy in Santa Fe will help alleviate the immediate need for a fourth high school. Memorial and North, the other two high schools, each already have a freshman academy.

“Santa Fe needs to be built big enough to accommodate all the students west of it, because there is no (available) land west of Santa Fe to build a high school,” Grunewald said. “Doesn’t exist.”

Grunewald said the Edmond district typically proposes bonds on a biennial basis, and there is a long history of community support for these proposals. In 2022, the district’s most recent bond proposal passed with 72.4% of voters. School bond proposals require at least 60% of the vote to pass.

“When I think about bonds, I want to know what they plan to do and how effectively they manage the projects and funds from previous bonds,” said Julie Woodard, who is a mother of three in the Edmond district and has worked with the Edmond Public Schools Foundation. “I believe the quality of our schools has an impact on the economic development we see in Edmond. People move here for the schools and there is an expectation that the quality of our schools will be sustainable.

“We continue to see growth in Edmond, and when I think about why that has been the case and continues to be the trend, I think about real estate. Over the last five years, the average value of new home permits has increased by 46% and the average price of existing homes for sale has increased by 47%. Every homeowner in Edmond, whether or not they have children or grandchildren in the EPS, benefits from the indirect impact of schools on property values.”

The Edmond Public Schools Foundation is a leader in supporting the bond proposal. There appears to be no organized opposition to the proposal.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Edmond Public Schools wants to build two schools with voter approval

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