Editor's Note: This is the second of three stories looking at the bond issues before Jay Public School voters. This week looks Proposition 2, the transportation bond. Next week, the final story will talk with voters on both sides of the issue to get the pros and cons of the project.
Voters within the Jay Public School System will have a chance to make their opinions known on Tuesday, May 14, as ballots are completed for two propositions to benefit the school district.
The first proposition, a $15.855 million measure, focuses on capital improvement projects. The second, a $700K initiative is designed to improve the district's transportation fleet.
If both bonds are approved, school officials are asking for a total of $16.555 million in funds. By law, capital improvements and transportation issues must be presented to voters in two different propositions.
The election takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 14. Voters in the following precincts will cast ballots: 8, 10, 12, and 14 to 20.
Early voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday, May 9 and 10, at the Delaware County Election Board, 225 South Fifth Street, in Jay.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 8. Absentee ballot application forms are available at the County Election Board office located at 225 South Fifth Street in Jay.
An online version of the form may be filled out and submitted electronically at: www.elections.ok.gov. A form to bring into the election board office may also be downloaded on that website.
Absentee ballots must be in the hands of County Election Board officials by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
Voters taking part in the election must reside within the following precincts: 8, 10, 12, and 14 to 20. They must have an address which is within the geographical boundaries of a school district to be eligible to vote for the bond issues.
As Marvin Stockton, director of transportation for Jay Public Schools, looks at the district's fleet he sees two things.
First, he sees vehicles which must run 16 bus routes each day, twice a day, throughout the district's geographic boundaries.
Second, he sees vehicles which must transport students and faculty to events across the region and state.
The fleet, which ranges from smaller vehicles used for trips to buses used for routes ranges in age from 1983 to 2018. The milage for most route buses ranges from 25,000 miles for the newest, to 189K for one of the oldest.
"Traveling to and from school on a bus, or traveling to and from school events on buses or school vehicles is an important responsibility," Stockton said. " Jay School [officials are] determined to be as safe and secure while transporting students."
Stockton is proud of one fact, all of the buses - sans Bus 22 - is in running condition. That bus is used for parts to help keep the other buses running.
"When a vehicle has so many miles or becomes undependable we attempt to keep them on short trips," Stockton said. "Right now the average age of our fleet is 10-years-old. The average mileage is over 100,000."
Stockton said the district's maintenance team works to keep the vehicles on a regular maintenance schedule, which he said helps the vehicles last as long as possible.
"Buses are expensive," Stockton said. "We must budget for a new bus every year."
He said passage of the bond will help district officials acquire new vehicles to update the fleet.
This will include activity buses, to help facilitate travel done by all organizations - sports and academic alike - to the various competitions.
"This year we leased two activity buses for students to travel to competitions," Stockton said. "These two buses helped relieve the need to use our route buses. The organizations could leave earlier because they would not have to wait on the route to be completed before be able to depart."
What the bond includes
If the bond issue is approved by voters, it would add three activity buses, three route buses and a school vehicle, most likely a suburban, to the fleet.
Jay Superintendent Larry Shackelford said the route buses are needed to strengthen the fleet. Each day, the 16 buses travel 288 square miles of roadway twice a day.
As new buses are introduced into the fleet, older route buses become the back up vehicles. Eventually the oldest are surplussed out, or used as part buses.
"We have at least three or four buses we need to replace [this year]," Shackelford said.
This year the district leased two activity buses. Shackelford said he did so, out of concern for students safety.
Activity buses can seat 44 passengers. Most come equipped with air conditioning, which Shackelford said helps during trips in the fall and late spring.
Activity buses are not used as route buses, Shackelford said, in order to keep them in good working order and to keep their appearance top notch.
"When our kids pull up at events, we want them to feel proud to be there," Shackelford said. "The air conditioning comes into play when you drive those long [trips], like when groups travel to Tulsa or Oklahoma City."
Shackelford said the activity buses are used every day.
"I don't feel good sending students on route buses with more than 70,000 to 80,000 miles, for field trips in Oklahoma City," Shackelford said. "The most important thing is to put our students in safe, good buses."