What a difference five years has made for Guthrie Public Schools when it comes to the passage of school bonds.
On Tuesday, the school district passed their second consecutive bond issue and the largest dollar amount.
In 2015, voters approved the $16.2 million bond with an approved percentage of 76.8 percent. Just this week, 71.7 percent of the voters said yes to the $19.25 million bond. The previous highest bond amount approved was $4.8 million in 2005.
While the yes percentage fell by five percentages points in 2019 compared to 2015, there were 3,240 less votes cast in 2019 as the 2014 bond issue was held during a general election.
So what has changed for the school district to pass back-to-back bonds for the two largest bond amounts ($35.45M) ever with more than 70 percent approval?
Southern Logan County.
Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson closed out each of his public forums in the past bond proposal of removing division within the school district.
“I’ve heard south county and Guthrie proper, but together we are one Guthrie school district that serves all of our children,” Simpson said.
Going back to 2014, a small $2.4 million bond issue failed by collecting only 52.5 percent of yes votes (super majority of 60 percent needed). The failed bond marked the seventh straight to fail in 10 years at the time.
In that election, voters in southern Logan County (seven precincts) voted against the bond by a vote of 1,735 no votes to 1,415 yes votes, or 55.07 percent to 44.93 percent.
Fast forward to 2019 and facing a $19.25 million bond, southern Logan County voters (same seven precincts) said yes with a vote count of 786 to 433, or 64. 5 percent to 35.5 percent.
A difference in 20 percentage points in the other direction.
Turns out, southern Logan County passed the super-majority 2019 vote by themselves.
One factor in the turn around for the southern portion of the school district has been the addition of Charter Oak Elementary and the school district moving to neighborhood schools.
While the 2015 bond issue help build Charter Oak, the school will not see any funding from the 2019 bond outside of perhaps some technology. However, those students will one day move to Guthrie Upper Elementary School, the junior high and high school, in which, will continue to receive updates and renovations with the latest bond.
Another factor with back-to-back successful bond elections has been the school administration and school board earning the trust of voters.
The school district was able to stay on par or under budget for all their projects in the 2015 bond.
The momentum is now at an all-time high for Guthrie Public Schools.