A blueprint showing the existing buildings on the campus of Turpin Schools also shows where a new proposed facility would be built should a bond pass on Aug. 26. Currently, Turpin does not have a storm shelter, and the district is also in need of additional space for its physical education programs. The $1.95 million bond would be financed over 10 years, and the new facility would meet the needs of both a storm shelter and PE programs. L&T photo/Robert Pierce
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Schools in Turpin, Okla., are in need of additional space for physical education programs, and the community itself is in need of a storm shelter.
After a bond to build a facility to meet the two needs failed last year, school board members went back to the drawing board to see what could be done to design a facility taxpayers could agree to.
The original bond called for $2.75 million to be spent on a facility, and with the new proposed bond, that cost has been shrunk to $1.95 million to be paid out over 10 years.
“It’s been paired down,” said Turpin Superintendent Bret Rider. “I felt the first time it went around, there was a lot of confusion because it was a bigger facility and it had a bunch of extra things. I think people thought we were substituting it for other facility.”
The cost was not the only larger thing about the original floor plan, according to Rider.
“It was a lot bigger facility,” he said. “This one, we felt we’ve paired it down to what we need – no bells and whistles. It’s a PE facility, a couple locker rooms, storage room and safe room.”
Rider said a new building will help with growth in enrollment.
“It’s bigger than the other facility that we had that’s outdated and not in very good shape,” he said. “We have a wonderful gym, so it’s not replacing that. It’s just going to be used as a PE facility. Right now, the only programs that really use our other PE facility is just the elementary school up to about fifth and sixth.”
Rider said the floor in that facility is cracked and not useful for activities such as basketball.
“They don’t use it for any basketball practice, any organized sport practice,” he said. “This would allow us for every student pre-K through 12 to have access to the facility for PE, athletics, afterschool programs.”
At this time, Turpin is not looking at any other building projects, and Rider said this likely will not happen unless the district experiences a significant growth spurt.
“Right now, our numbers are down from what they were about 15 years ago,” he said. “We were over 500. Now, we’re over 400. As far as classroom space, space in our school, we have adequate space. We don’t have a lot of extra space, but we have adequate space right now.”
Following the failure of the first bond, Rider said the Turpin School Board reevaluated the project and got feedback from community members to see what could be done to make the facility a reality.
“They felt they got the feedback from the community that maybe the last one was just too much,” he said. “It had four locker rooms and all these public bathrooms in it. That wasn’t the intent. It just kind of grew. They decided to go back and rerun this just exactly, with no extra stuff, just what we need.”
The only current underground facility at Turpin schools is one utilized by cheerleaders. Rider said the new building, which is about 9,600 square feet, will give the district a facility big enough for everyone in the school system.
“I think the original plan has three entryways,” he said. “We have eight different entries just in this building. Elementary has probably the same number. That’s an issue for all schools.”
The new building would be centrally located between the elementary, middle and high school buildings in Turpin.
“It’s a monolithic dome,” Rider said. “The whole facility meets the FEMA standard for storm shelters. It would hold approximately 1,400 to 1,600 people. We have about 410 kids, so it would easily do our community and school all together. The storm shelter is an added bonus. It is for PE for our younger kids. We’re finally getting a lot of interest with our younger parents with Kids Inc. A lot of our teams play with Kids Inc. in Liberal. Right now, they don’t like to use this gym.”
Turpin currently has a transportation bond on the board, and with the new project, a patron paying $100 in property taxes can expect to pay $114 for the first two years, with the rate going down beginning in the third year to about $108. The tax rate would continue to decline until the bond is paid off in year 10.
As for the current structure, Rider said it would be kept, but it would be used for storage and indoor softball and baseball.
The bond is set for an election on Aug. 26, and the Turpin district will host a community meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 11 in the high school auditorium to discuss the issue.
“We have a board meeting that night, and the very first thing, they’re going to open it up to question and answer,” Rider said. “Our guy that’s doing the bond is going to be here to answer any financial questions.”
The superintendent said everyone is invited to call Turpin schools and the district’s school board with any questions they may have about the bond.
“We just want to get it out and be very open,” he said. “We don’t want people thinking we’re trying to hide anything. We want it to be very public and people have the opportunity to voice their opinions and vote their will, whatever it may be.”