Local News: Purdy approves school bond (4/20/22)

No tax increase bond to fund school improvements

Purdy voters approved a no-tax increase bond measure that will supply the Purdy School District with $3 million in funding to improve school safety, amenities and educational opportunities.

Purdy voters overwhelmingly supported the school board’s request, with 238 (81.23 percent) voting in favor of the bond and 55 (18.77 percent) against.

Purdy School Superintendent Travis Graham hosted a series of open houses leading up to the election to introduce the community to his goals for the bond money.

“I think this is a huge reflection of the support the community shows for the school if they approve the bond by 81 percent,” Graham said. “The district is thrilled, and we’re looking forward to doing great things with this funding.”

Graham has proposed utilizing the $3 million in bond funding to achieve three specific goals: improving safety, improving infrastructure and increasing educational opportunities at Purdy schools.

A top priority for the district is to utilize the bond funding to construct two-point entry ways at the school’s three main entrances.

The entryways will have visitors to campus entering through two sets of locked doors. If a guest arrives at campus, they will make contact with school administrators in the front office who will have the ability to buzz them through the first door. Once that door is closed behind the guest, administrators can buzz open the second door, which will open directly into the school office, which will provide directions and credentials for visitors.

Next on the list is a complete remodel of the school’s kitchen area that will upgrade food service capabilities for all students and improve safety.

Graham said the school is currently operating a cafeteria with equipment that was purchased and installed in the 1960s and 1970s.

He said a totally re-designed cook space will give kitchen staff more flexibility to provide a “cafe style” dining experience at school with more cuisine options each day.

Another project the district hopes to tackle with bond funding is the construction of a “transportation operation facility” or bus barn to house and maintain the school bus fleet, which the district hopes to own outright, rather than lease, in the coming years.

The district is also looking to invest money in the family and consumer science classroom and science labs.

For the family and consumer science classroom, Graham said he hopes to build an industrial kitchen that would give students who hope to go into the restaurant business an opportunity to gain real-world experience.

Likewise, he hopes to modernize the school science labs to enhance the students’ experience and exposure to more up-to-date equipment and methods.

Leading up to the election, Graham said the school’s science lab was antiquated and in dire need of updates.

Graham has met with Paragon Architectures of Springfield to look at potential plans for the dual entry ways and kitchen remodel, and has even created his own rough draft of a potential transportation facility.

With approval from voters last week, Graham said construction should be completed over summer break, hopefully without impacting this school year, next school year or summer school sessions.

The voter-approved bond funding will be released by July 1.

“One of the greatest points I want to make is that these are projects that will meet the immediate needs of students,” Graham said while asking the community to support the bond measure. “As a parent of two Purdy Eagles, I want to know these projects impact the kids directly, and I want to be assured that our school is a safe place for kids and can be competitive with larger districts.”