An architect’s drawing indicates where the new facility would be located within the existing campus at Turpin school. The facility would have a larger physical education area as well as house a safe room for students during tornadoes or extreme weather conditions. Courtesy graphic
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
On Oct. 8, voters in the Turpin school district will go to the polls to decide the fate of a $2.75 million school bond to build a new physical education and safe room facility on the campus.
Turpin Superintendent Bret Rider said if the bond issue is passed, bonds will be sold, and the school’s current P.E. facility will be demolished.
“Part of this facility will be where the old one is at now,” he said. “Our construction manager and architect have told us it would probably start sometime in April 2014. It should be in place no later than the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.”
Rider said all locker rooms, storage areas and bathrooms would be used as a safe room in the event of an emergency in compliance with standards from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The floor in the facility itself would be a double court,” he said. “It would be probably two to two and a half times larger surface than what we have now. You could actually run two practices or anything else. It’s primarily P.E., but if you had your junior high kids using it, you could actually two courts sideways.”
The new building would also have pullout bleachers for use during a ball game, but Rider said it will not replace the gymnasium the school now has in place.
The superintendent said the P.E. facility Turpin uses now has small locker rooms and bathrooms as well as an art room, which he said will be moved into the school’s main building.
Rider said Turpin’s school board made the decision to put the bond up for a vote recently, and the issue had been discussed for about two years.
“This building, it needs some repair,” he said. “We were kind of going through the stages to see how much it would cost for repair and everything. We’re looking at putting new flooring down. The floor is cracked and shifted, settled. We would have to completely take out all the cement inside the building if we wanted to put new flooring down, something besides carpet.”
Rider said with pipes in the current P.E. building getting older and in constant need of repair, the school board opted to start with a new building.
Rider said discussions about the need for a safe room had begun even prior to tornadoes in May that ravaged Moore, Okla.
“After the tornadoes in May, we really started looking at expanding the size of it to what we have so that we would have enough space for the whole school if something happened during the school time,” he said.
Rider said the project has received a mixed reaction thus far from the Turpin community.
“You hear plus and minuses,” he said. “This has really been a quick turn of events. The board wanted to try to get the vote as quick as they could, just so they could get started. If they waited much longer, construction wouldn’t start till the next school year. Then we’d be looking at probably two school years before we could even use it.”
Rider said the bond issue was promoted during a hamburger feed last week for the school’s booster club.
“We had one of our board members talk to the community about it,” he said. “We’ve been hearing good things. You hear positives and negatives. It is an impact on the taxpayers’ burden. If they pay ad valorem tax, it will increase theirs about $18 for every $100 that they pay.”
Rider said, though, that after all views are aired on the bond issue, he is optimistic about its chances on Oct. 8.
“Turpin’s always been real supportive of the school,” he said. “A lot of people just don’t realize the school gets older every year. That’s why the board is offering to have an open house – so they can come look at the facility now. I think once people see that there is a real need and this isn’t a fluffy-type thing and with the safe room, I have a gut feeling it’ll pass.”