Rivers Elementary School was named as a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School recently, but a a local coalition Nov. 7-8 also will be receiving the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership at a ceremony in Wasthington D.C.
Presented by the U.S. Department of Education in memory of former U.S. Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell, the award recognizes principals who have transformed schools with effective leadership, skilled teaching and high expectations.
“This is a very prestigious award recognizing sustained and outstanding leadership,” said Superintendent Roger Hill. “Mrs. (Robbie) Holder has been the principal of Rivers for 18 years with highly experienced staff, low turnover and lots of consistency. She has led a culture of high expectations, a culture based on relationships with the students and the faculty, and a culture where there are engaged parents. All of these things come into play to make Rivers what it is. I could not be more proud of this very prestigious honor and we look forward to going to Washington D.C. and celebrating.”
In addition to recognizing Holder, Hill also took some time to recognize the Altus Public Schools security officers and other law enforcement agencies for providing security and supervision at the schools and the schools’ activities.
He thanked Jackson County Undersheriff Stacy Randolph, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troop M Troopers Johnny Freeman and Justin Wheeler, Altus Police Department Chief Tim Murphy, Altus Public School’s Jeff Thompson, Pete Downs and Kevin Newton.
Afterwards, the board approved the resignation of Altus Primary School’s Cafeteria Manager Norma Sorrell and hiring Brant Lewallan Lewallen as the district’s computer technician.
Altus High School’s vocational agriculture building already had an exterior renovation, but needs an interior renovation. On the agenda at Monday’s meeting was an option to approve or not approve hiring Joe D. Hall General Contractors LLC as construction manager for the second phase of the renovations for the interior, which was met with a unanimous approval.
The board also approved the design and specifications for Phase II of the project. The company hopes to get bids rolling as early as December and has an estimated project completion date of May, giving the instructors the summer to move things back into the building.
The board also voted to hire Stephen H. McDonald and Associates Inc. as the financial consultant to the school district, specifically regarding the proposed bond for long overdue transportation upgrades in the district.
The bond will be a five-year general obligation transportation bond issue in the amount of $1.75 million and will require a super majority approval — 60 percent plus one yes vote — to go through.
The bond will cause a 5.034 percent increase on property taxes if approved by the voters in the Altus school district and can be voted on during the Jan. 10, 2017 election.
The district needs route buses, charter and activity buses, security vehicles, a vocational agriculture pickup, SUVs and maintenance vehicles.
“The district has many transportation needs that require immediate attention,” Hill said. “To provide students and faculty with safe and comfortable transportation is an absolute must and we believe this bond issue is the best option we have to address our transportation needs in a manner that is responsible to our patrons in Altus.”
Board President Stephen Barnett was initially torn on the subject, but he could not deny his gut feelings.
“I’ll be honest, I am an anti-tax-increase guy, but bigger than that I am a pro-kids guy, specifically with kids in this area,” Barnett said. “I heard when we were going through revenue issues in the state, things that none of us could control, people would come to me and say we have to do something locally, something has to be done locally, and this is it. This is what we can do locally and I don’t see that we have a choice.”
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.