By Conrad Dudderar
A new training facility for first responders would be constructed at Canadian Valley Technology Center’s El Reno Campus if a $75 million bond issue passes next Tuesday.
Voters across the CV Tech school district – which covers 14 “partner” school districts – will consider the proposal at the Sept. 12th special election.
Early voting was Thursday and Friday at the Canadian County Election Board in El Reno.
Polling places across Canadian County will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day.
The CV Tech Board of Directors at its April meeting voted unanimously to support the bond election “for some much-needed improvements and additions across the district,” CV Tech Superintendent Gayla Lutts said.
Voter approval will keep CV Tech moving forward in its mission to help Oklahomans succeed “as we build a brighter future for our students, our community and the Oklahoma workforce,” she added.
Passage of the $75 million bond proposal will increase property taxes by an estimated $30 per year ($2.50 per month) for each $100,000 of assessed value.
Projected payoff of the 2023 bond is 15 years.
The district’s estimated millage rate is 3.47.
Pending voter approval, construction would start in fall 2024 after CV Tech’s 2014 bond issue is retired.
This new bond issue has been endorsed by the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, Grady County Sheriff’s Office, Yukon Police Department, El Reno Police Department, Union City Police Department, Bethany Police Department, and Tuttle Police Department.
Planned projects total $52,744,000 for CV Tech’s El Reno Campus, 6505 E Highway 66 in Canadian County.
Pending voter approval, these funds will be used to construct, equip and furnish a “stand-alone” public safety training facility.
This would feature a main classroom building, offices, lab/simulators, seminar space, safe room, site improvements, and more school furniture, fixtures and equipment.
The first responder facility would train cadets in law enforcement tactics like arrests, pursuits, traffic stops, and firearms; along with training for firefighters and emergency medical personnel.
Space could be reallocated at the El Reno campus for high demand, full-time Business and Industry Services’ programs.
Planned projects total $22,256,000 for CV Tech’s Chickasha Campus, 1401 Michigan Ave. in Grady County.
If the bond issue passes, proceeds would be used for safety and modernization updates at a campus built in the late 1960s.
Renovations would include classrooms, lab and shop spaces, offices, a safe room, common spaces, parking lot/bus lanes, and more school furniture, fixtures and equipment.
Superintendent Lutts spoke about CV Tech’s $75 million bond issue this summer during a Yukon Chamber of Commerce Membership Luncheon and El Reno Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast.
Here are some highlights of her CV Tech “Building a Brighter Future” presentation:
- Oklahoma is facing a “workforce crisis” as businesses struggle to find skilled, reliable and qualified workers. Among Oklahoma’s top 100 critical occupations are: Nurses, paramedics, police officers, firefighters, welders, heat and air repair technicians, and electricians.
- 35% of top critical occupations require on-the-job training and apprenticeships that Oklahoma CareerTech provides. CV Tech graduated 574 students in fiscal year 2023, and there is a demand for nearly double that number.
- Robust district growth has necessitated construction of classroom space for more programs. During the 2022-23 school year, CV Tech received more than 1,200 student applications – but had to turn away nearly half due to “lack of capacity.”
A $12 million bond issue, approved by voters in April 2014, funded CV Tech’s rebuild of existing structures after extensive tornado damage to the El Reno campus.
But it did not account for population increase.
Canadian County’s population grew 33.6% from 2010 to 2020 and continues to climb, according to the U.S. Census.
CV Tech has a third site, the Cowan Campus at 1701 S Czech Hall Road in Yukon.
‘BUILDING A BRIGHTER FUTURE’
In a letter to the editor titled “Building a Brighter Future for All,” Dr. Lutts wrote:
“Voters have an incredible opportunity on September 12th to make a lasting and positive impact on our future in surrounding communities. The Canadian Valley Technology Center bond will be on the ballot, and the outcome of this election will determine our tech center’s ability to serve more high school and adult students as well as meet the growing needs of our business community.
“The Oklahoma CareerTech system is renowned for providing cutting-edge training that aligns with industry standards, ensuring our students are fully prepared to enter the workforce. However, the facilities at CV Tech’s Chickasha Campus are outdated, built over 50 years ago, and are limiting our capacity to provide new programs. This bond aims to allocate nearly a third of the funds to upgrade aging facilities, add new programs, classrooms, shops, and safe room spaces on our campus.
“That’s not all. The remaining bond funds would be dedicated to constructing a desperately needed Public Safety Training Facility at the El Reno Campus. Local law enforcement leaders initially approached CV Tech with the idea of a Basic Peace Officer Candidate (BPOC) academy to serve the western part of Oklahoma, including Canadian and Grady Counties. As this idea took shape, other public safety officials recognized the potential for a shared facility, including fire and emergency medical services.
“With the growing population across the district, they all expressed the urgent need to add more safety personnel which increases the need for more training options. The new facility would expand current public safety programs that keep our communities safe. It would also free up space, allowing CV Tech to expand or add new in-demand programs creating more opportunities for high school and adult students.
“Despite our diligent and creative efforts to add more programs, staff, and schedule options, we had to turn away nearly 600 student applicants last spring due to capacity limits. We are at maximum capacity and desperately need more classroom space to accommodate the growing number of students in our service area, which includes the fastest-growing county in the state.
“Imagine the impact of CV Tech reaching even more students, empowering them with the skills they need to thrive and secure quality jobs with our local companies. By investing in new training buildings for high-demand fields like public safety and cybersecurity, as well as modernizing existing classrooms and labs, we create a real-world learning environment that aligns with our mission to prepare our students for success.
“This investment is very affordable. Although the total is $75 million, it is spread across our district that covers 14 partner school districts. For about $2.50 per month for a $100,000 home, which is less than the price of a cup of coffee, we can build a brighter future with more skilled workers filling the growing number of essential jobs in our local area.
“Together, we have the power to build a brighter future for us all. Let’s seize this opportunity and make a positive impact on our community’s future!”
For more detailed information about the bond, visit http://cvtech.edu/about/cv-tech-bond-2023/