Blair Public School students will soon be riding on safer school buses and the district will have more operating funds after voters overwhelmingly approved a $300,000 bond issue Tuesday.
Voters passed the bond issue 129 to 35, or with 79 percent of the vote.
The district has been leasing two buses from an Oklahoma City service for $25,000 a year. At the same time, an activity bus is now 20 years old and does not have some of the safety features of new buses or passenger capacity.
Blair Superintendent Jimmy Smith said last week that the district has used money from its operating expenses to fund the bus leases. He said that money would better be used for other needs in the district. By passing the bond, the district will be able to buy three buses, two for transporting students to the school daily and the other for activities.
On Wednesday, Smith said he’s felt a real change in the community in the last 18 months. He credits the newly formed Blair Foundation with helping generate a feeling of community pride and the willingness to help take care of its own needs such as the buses. He said the public realizes the state has been having financial troubles and education has been hit hard since it swallows a high percentage of the state budget.
The bond issue will raise local property taxes, also referred to as ad valorem taxes, by 5.99 percent for five years.
Smith said the district will now take the time to explore what kind of buses it will need as well as seek bids from companies. He estimates that by the time the bonds are sold, it will likely be April or May before the money becomes available.