Wilson, OK – Wilson School District’s registered voters will be deciding their children’s fate next Tuesday, Sept. 8. Dealing with substandard classrooms, transportation breakdowns, and a severely lacking gymnasium, high school students sound off during a recent interview. Senior Malorie Shepard, “We’ve had to pump water off the floor after it rains, just so we can play.” Sophomore Hector Rodriguez, “I’ve slipped on the wet floor several times after raining, once I hurt my hip.” Junior Brittany Moore, “We need a new gym because it gets too hot without air circulation. The bathroom’s are terrible.” Sophomore Kale Brown, “When I walk across the gym floor, it squeaks and buckles. I feel like I’m going to fall through it.” Senior Leslie Brookshire, “Several times the buses have left us stranded. When we played Empire, they had to come pick us up in the middle of nowhere.” Senior Weston Adams, “The elementary kids don’t have any place to practice because there’s not enough time for everyone.”
Maintenance Supervisor Sharla Carlile confirmed school buses broke down at least, six times this last year. Carlile reported five of Wilson’s ten school buses are 1992 models, with two – 1997’s, one – 1999, and two – 2002, aging our school bus fleet an average 14.3 years, which is older than the majority of the kids riding them. Most of the WISD buses have logged 100,000+ miles in all kinds of weather, over gravel and asphalt roads, constantly stopping and starting, averaging one-hour runs each weekday morning and afternoon, safely picking up and delivering our students across the seventy-five square mile school district.
High School Boys Basketball Coach David McGuire stated, “We want something we can be proud of.” Pointing out the 15-20 trash cans scattered around the gymnasium, McGuire stated that after each rain, the trash cans are used to catch the water leaks, “We’ve fixed the roof several times, but the leaks just show up elsewhere.” Coach McGuire gave a tour of the junior high locker room, which is the “Visitors” locker room during basketball games. There were no restroom facilities. Visiting basketball teams and Wilson’s junior high players are required to use the lobby restrooms. Wilson is not allowed to host state-sanctioned playoff games due to the poor condition of our gymnasium. In addition, McGuire stated our facility is not large enough to accommodate audiences for tournaments and playoff games. “We’re trying to build a basketball program that will allow our children to compete successfully with area schools, but it’s especially difficult when our students don’t have their first chance to practice on a real basketball court until the sixth grade.”
Wilson School Supt. Kevin Stinson reflected upon the additional costs of doubling the size of our community storm shelter with the new proposed gymnasium, “If I’m going to ask our school district’s taxpayers to finance a new gymnasium, new buses, and new classrooms for our students, I’m going to give them something in return that will directly benefit our community.” Supt. Stinson was optimistic that our community would support their children by making the necessary investment in their education. The last school bond election was passed in 2004 with better than a 60% approval. The $720,000 was utilized to build the Early Childhood Development Center, repair the middle and high school roofs, buy the two 2002 buses, and make the last repairs on the gym floor. Unfortunately, the last time the gym floor was repaired, the contractor reported it would be the last time possible. He stated the aged basketball court was just worn out.
There are many reasons why we should support our children and vote yes on the two questions posed in the upcoming bond election, namely each and every pre-K to senior student enrolled, but from a strictly business perspective, WISD is spending $20,000/year maintenance to keep our old school buses on the road. Not even considering our responsibility to provide our students safe, reliable transportation, our school district could recover the costs of at least, one of the two new buses within four or five years.
As far as the new gymnasium and classrooms are concerned, our students deserve our support. They are our future. Lastly, whether it be a student, teacher, parent or neighbor, how do we determine a value on someone’s life? Our community must invest in its future by expanding our storm shelter capacity. We can make a sound investment today to avoid running the risks of much costlier consequences tomorrow. There are no free rides in this world. It pays to be prepared. Please vote “Yes” on both items in the Sept. 8 school bond election. It’s the right thing to do.