Sapulpa Public School Superintendent Rob Armstrong spoke to a packed house made up of members of the city’s leading civic organizations at the Oaks Country Club on Tuesday, March 21st.
Armstrong began his presentation by telling the audience he appreciated his colleagues, “It is a great pleasure to work with a great group of team members.”
The superintendent introduced staff members who were present: Assistant Superintendent Johnny Bilby, Director of Athletics, Michael Rose, Chief Financial Officer Kendra Terrones, Director of Communications, Heather Brown, and last, but not least, Girls Basketball Coach, Darlean Calip.
Armstrong praised Ms. Calip for her latest win: “We have, I think, the finest person who also coaches our girl’s basketball team…with Miss Darlean Calip.”
Superintendent Armstrong then showed a short video montage of the Sapulpa vs. Holland Hall 5A girl’s basketball state championship game.
Extolling the virtues of public education, Armstrong said: “We have a lot of wonderful public educators in Oklahoma, and I am still convinced that public education is the best route for families and communities in our state. I will continue to defend that because so many of us have been there and done that. We are going to continue to fight for it.”
The superintendent then discussed the latest plans for the future of Sapulpa public schools.
“I want to share some information, we have some exciting things happening in Sapulpa. We are working with a great team of architects, locally, here in Sapulpa.” Armstrong introduced David Reed and his associates who comprise Reed Architecture.
“If you haven’t heard yet, we are embarking on a journey to build our next high school in Sapulpa. It is going to take us out into the next 5, 10, 15 generations of students, of classes of students, over the next 50, 60, 75 years.”
Speaking of the evolution of Sapulpa High School, Armstrong stated that over a course of fifty to sixty years “We have added pieces to that campus.”
Besides applauding teachers in the Sapulpa Public School system, Armstrong also commended the Sapulpa School Board.
“As I mentioned, we have great teachers, but we also have a wonderful school board, they are very supportive….They are a wonderful group of people, they want to hear from the constituents of their districts, along with our school community.”
Armstrong also mentioned the eight teachers who have been selected for Teacher of the Year.
“We would love to share all of these different 8 teachers at one of your civic group organizations, your monthly meetings, your weekly meetings, we will bring them out to you and we can introduce them to you. They range from kindergarten teachers all the way up to high school band teachers.”
Armstrong discussed the replacement of the artificial grass at the football field and the west campus soccer field. “We were coming in on the lifespan of that. From 2014, we were starting to have some warranty issues so we worked with AstroTurf to get that replaced. We should get 8-10 years on that beautiful surface, I know our soccer teams are really excited about it.”
The superintendent said the installation of the new AstroTurf at the high school football field should be completed in approximately one week.
Armstong brought up the installation of new video displays, “We have also experienced a lot of damage. We had students that were climbing up on the frame of the video boards. Those are million dollar video boards so we had to secure them a little bit better.”
Armstrong returned to the subject of the next generation high school and lamented the problem of rising costs, and ever-changing interest rates.
“We can have a meeting in the morning … and in the afternoon the interest rates may go up a quarter of a percent in the bond market, and all of a sudden we have lost 4 million dollars.”
Referring to the projected development Armstrong said, ”This is going to be a three-story building, we are going to build up and our footprint is going to get smaller.”
He alluded to the changing student occupation of the building versus years ago. “High school for us was you were there all day, you left and went and did something else. Today’s high school graduates, juniors and seniors especially, maybe there only an hour, and some of them may not be on campus because they are doing stuff online. They are going to TCC with concurrent enrollment, internships, or athletics, their schedule is much different from ours.”
Armstrong envisioned programs such as STEM and Culinary Arts would be on the first floor and visible when you enter the building.
Armstrong provided renderings of the new facility, through a slide presentation, he also gave the audience some cost estimates, “we are not talking 30 million or 90 million, we are talking 150 million to build this out here.”
Armstrong emphasized there would be challenges accomplishing these goals but said it was a “wonderful opportunity” to augment the current development going on in the city. “All of the new energy that is coming into this area, we just have to keep it moving forward. We have got to do our part, the school system represents a significant part of this community.” He said, ”this is what kids need and this is what our kids deserve.”
Armstrong stated the targeted date for the school bond issue election is September 12, 2023. He went on to say that an annual evaluation growth of 3 ½% is projected. “In 20 years, we have gone from 110 million dollars to 220 million dollars, we are growing in our community. This is a very conservative figure, last year we grew 11%.”
He did, however, acknowledge that the 11% figure was an anomaly but felt that 4 or 4 ½% percent is “doable.”
Armstrong further stated that the development would be completed and financed in stages and that other parts of the Sapulpa School system need capital improvement projects.
“We can’t just build a high school over the next 25 years, we have buses to buy, we have technology to buy, textbooks to buy, we have computers to buy, roof units on Freedom Elementary, we have to take care of playgrounds. We are projecting out almost 26 million dollars that will be available over 24 years.. At the end of the day, it is about a 280 million dollar project.
According to Armstong, with the proposed millage, a person owning a $167,000 home, which is the average-priced home in Sapulpa, will pay roughly an additional $10 a month.
Armstrong asked citizens to “create the energy it takes to vote 60%.” He said that it is the school’s goal to see that the bond issue would pass by 90%.
He concluded his talk by pointing out the economic impact school sport facilities have on the community and encouraged people to attend public meetings held by Sapulpa Public Schools.