Poteau Voters Don’t Pass $22.9 Million School Bond

POTEAU (KFSM) — A bond issue failed in Poteau that would have paid for major renovations and helped with overcrowding issues in the schools.

“I’m disappointed for the kids,” said voter Britney Dunn. “I am.”

In Poteau, 703 people voted for the $22.9 million bond issue, and 802 voted against the tax increase.

“Nobody wants anymore taxes,” resident Kelly Johnson said. “They want the betterment, not the taxes.”

Johnson admits he did not make it to the polls, but would have likely voted for the bond. He said the school also needs enough textbooks to go around.

“Our home would have gone up about $130 for the year, which is not much,” said Linda Newman. “I own several rental properties here in Poteau and I would’ve been more than happy to pay the extra money.”

Newman has four grandchildren in the district. She is also a member of a committee called Progress for Poteau Schools. The group worked to educate voters about the bond issue.

Newman said the money would have gone toward building an academic center for 7th and 8th graders, renovations to the Bob Lee Kidd Community Center, an expansion at the high school and the construction of an event center.

“Maybe it was too much at one time, and maybe a lot of people were confused about it,” she said. “Maybe we didn’t get the word out as good as we could.”

Superintendent Don Sjoberg issued a statement on the failure of the bond issue:

While there is disappointment with the outcome, there are important points to learn from the results.

There were 703 voters who were willing to make a major sacrifice to see long-term improvements in our facilities for students and community.   Although it was not enough to pass, it DOES show that there was an understanding that personal sacrifice was more important than personal financial gain. The community of Poteau is dependent on the school economically as well as educationally and the results of the vote show that there are many people who still believe that we shouldn't "expect something for nothing".

The school district owes a debt of gratitude to the many people who helped to develop the Facilities Improvement Plan.  The voting results will be reviewed and steps taken to develop a plan that a supermajority of voters will support.