By Conrad Dudderar
With all available space at Banner School already converted to classroom use, Banner district patrons will decide the fate of a $6 million bond proposition to fund an expansion project.
Polls will be open next Tuesday, Aug. 23 for a Banner Public Schools (BPS) bond election. Registered voters living in the Banner school district are eligible to cast ballots.
If the bond issue passes, plans call for construction of a new Banner school building with eight classrooms (including a science lab) and two “multipurpose” rooms that may later be converted to classrooms. The building will have a storm shelter and office.
Banner is a K-8 school district in Oklahoma’s fastest-growing county. The school, 2455 N Banner Road, is now at maximum capacity in all grade levels.
BPS Superintendent Michael Prior cited the need for the district to be “proactive” about the school’s enrollment growth.
The school’s student body increased by 52% over the past seven years from 204 to 311.
With new housing development occurring inside Banner school district boundaries, Prior said he anticipates student population increasing about 50 by the end of the 2022-23 school year.
“At Banner, we have always taken pride in keeping our class sizes small and attracting the ‘best of the best’ in our faculty,” he said.
Banner’s legacy includes the school’s small class sizes and students’ high academic achievement. Banner always scores high among surrounding districts on state testing and the school report card.
This is partially due to Banner’s low student-to-teacher ratio.
“As we grow, our numbers increase and teachers are seeing numbers in their classrooms creep up, thus minimizing individualized education time for each student,” Assistant Principal Samantha Smith said. “Our teachers are committed to providing the best education possible to every Banner student.
“And with ample space, we can continue to be sure every child counts.”
A bond committee comprised of five Banner parents and two Banner teachers decided it was crucial to address the school district’s current and future growth.
The proposal is to build the new school addition on the southwest corner of the BPS property, south of Interstate 40 in El Reno.
One concern about the Banner School addition has been its proximity to an oil well site to the west. But the proposed new building is well over the state minimum distance from the oil well.
Construction is projected to start in April 2023 and the new-and-improved Banner School would be ready to open for the 2024-25 fall semester.
MA+ Architecture is the project architect and Lingo Construction would be construction manager.
PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
If the $6 million Banner school bond issue is approved Aug. 23, the debt would be paid off over 10 years.
BPS has one of the lowest mileage rates in this area at 3.56.
If Tuesday’s school bond passes, it will increase Banner’s millage rate to 16.31 – still third lowest in Canadian County – for two years.
The rate would then drop to 11.56 in 2025 when Banner’s current school bond (passed in 2015) is paid off.
The projected impact for a property owner who pays $1,000 in taxes is $175.01 annually ($14.58 monthly).
As the population continues to grow with more homes built in the BPS district, the property tax amount will be distributed among all Banner residents and the millage rate will decrease.
A new neighborhood is being developed off Jensen Road inside Banner school district boundaries. Phase one has 65 lots that have already been sold or under contract, and phase two will include another 130 homes.
Bond funds may only be spent on building construction and renovation, or equipment purchases – not teacher or administrator salaries.
Banner School was founded in 1889 with eight students in a one-room schoolhouse.
These Canadian County polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 23 for Banner school bond election:
- 100 – Canadian Valley Technology Center, 6505 E Hwy 66-El Reno
- 114 – Canadian County Expo Center, 3001 Jensen Road E-El Reno
- 201 – Richland Nazarene Church, 1025 N 6th St. in Richland-Yukon
- 210 – Yukon Fine Arts Auditorium, 850 Yukon Ave.-Yukon
- 211 (299) – Family Church, 701 N Cemetery Road-Yukon
- 213 – West Point Christian Church, 1600 S Richland Road-Yukon
- 239 – Stable Rock Baptist Church, 1301 S Cemetery Road-Yukon
- 308 – Lakehoma Church of Christ, 2124 W State Hwy 152-Mustang
- 400 – St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Hall, 407 Kate Boevers Ave.-Union City
Early voting was Thursday, Aug. 18 through Saturday, Aug. 20 at the former Canadian County DHS Building, 314 W Rogers in El Reno.