Tax issue passes in Durant for new high school

By: Mystic Matthews Email
By: Mystic Matthews Email

DURANT, Okla. - An election in Bryan County has sparked a vigorous debate whether or not to raise taxes for a new high school. Durant says they have needed a new high school for 20 years, and the vote is in. Mystic Matthews has the results.

A majority of voters in Durant voted in favor of a sales tax increase. Of the votes, 52% were for the proposition, casting 1,195 ballots and 48% were against it, casting 1,086 ballots.

As the ballots were counted, I spoke to people on both sides of the debate to hear what they had to say about the results.

"A new high school would mean tremendous opportunities for our students. Interesting research showes achievement gains with new facilities," says Durant Superintendent Dr. Terry James.

James may very well get his wish after learning that Tuesday’s referendum passed. “One of the main factors is increased enrollment. The high school has a little over 800 students and the hallways are crowded. As we look at additional growth, we'll need more classrooms and hall space."

And more classrooms will soon be under construction. Dr. James says they will immediately go to work because a basic plan is already in place for the project.

And while the voters just decided to go ahead with the tax, Dr. James says planning has been in the works for some time now. “It's been a project needed for many years and in serious discussion the last 4 to 5 years."

But now that will have to be carried out, so the proposed site will no longer be an empty field.

Dr. James says a new high school is not just for the high school students, “The primary springboard for this election is our middle school, which was the old high school and is over 90 years old. The classrooms are small and cannot be renovated. The main need is to get our middle schools in a better facility."

Bryan County Commissioner Monty Montgomery is on the other side of the debate, and despite the tax issue passing, Montgomery still wonders if it's the best option. “I never questioned the need. I just questioned whether or not there would be a better way to pay for it besides an increased sales tax."

Dr. James says he is thrilled by news of the referendum's passage. He projects six more months of planning and up to 2 ½ years for construction. The building is set to be ready in the fall of 2011.

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  • by Nick Location: Durant on Apr 4, 2008 at 04:43 PM
    to SEE YA NICK: I know all about the property taxes in TX. But the lack of a personal income tax, and lower sales taxes will offset that a bit. The other big reason to move is the quality of life. If you and everyone else that wants to stay here in a trashy town, then more power to you. I for one am sick of living around so much uneducated white trash. I am sick of driving in a twon where 90% of the people on the roads are idions. I am sick of the neighborhood I live in sounding like a dog kennel from all the irresponsible dog owners. Between the ability to get a much better paying job, a huge increase of quality of life, and all the other perks of living in a nice city, an increase in my cost of living is WELL worth it. to YEP: Yes, the roads are trash in Durant. Read below, I got into that too. Durant was too worried about building a sports complex, remodeling a parking lot on 1st st, and making the sidewalks on main st look pretty. They forgot how people get to those places.
  • by Kathy Location: Oklahoma on Apr 4, 2008 at 09:59 AM
    The question has been raised as to why more people county wide did not vote against the issue of increasing the sales tax inside the Durant city limits, well correct me if I am wrong but unless you live in the city limits of Durant you COULDN'T VOTE! Unless this was a "special" election which allowed outside voting for a city proposition, which I am sure it wasn't, how were people outside the city limits supposed to vote for it? The argument that if the people in the county didn't like it they should have voted against it doesn't hold water. As far as "county people" taking jobs away from "Durant people" if the position was vacant, more than one person applied for it, maybe the better person (or maybe the person actually willing to work) got the job. Some of you make it sound like every school gets the same amount of $ a year from the state and they don't! Yes, property taxes are higher in TX but that is made by no state tax. I thought the lottery was supposed to be for education.
  • by Yep Location: Durant on Apr 4, 2008 at 07:22 AM
    Ok so I just moved here and I dont know anything about the schools here but has anyone noticed the roads around here? Does anyone agree with me that maybe some money should be spent on fixing some of the potholes in the roads so people can get their kids to school without blowing a tire or ruining their car?? Also, I come from a town in NW OK and I feel lucky that I have Sherman and Denison to go shopping in considering OKC was the closest place to shop where I came from and it was 2 1/2 hours away!!!
  • by See ya Nick Location: Durant on Apr 4, 2008 at 07:15 AM
    Before you get your panties completely in a wad about moving south of the river you might want check your facts. Property tax and insurance cost are tremendously higher in Texas. I'm no math wiz but I'd say it's going to cost you much more in property tax and insurance than what you're going to save on this 5/8 cent tax. Don't let the door hit you on the way out of town though.
  • by Mork Location: Ork on Apr 4, 2008 at 06:01 AM
    Nick ole' boy - if you think you can drive to Texas on $3, your wrong. Haul you butt to Texas - we appreciate it! LOL!
  • by Nick Location: Durant on Apr 3, 2008 at 09:36 PM
    To all you math wiz'es here. Texas has NO sales tax on groceries, so on a $100 grocery order, thats $9.13 tax in Durant, $0 in Denison. Even the worst gas guzzler gets 15 miles to the gallon, which would be about $7 in gas. My car gets 30mpg, so for me its $3 in gas to save $9. And thats on only a $100 purchase! So yes, that IS worth it to not waste more money so Durant can blow it. And to the person that said to move, trust me, as soon as I can I AM LEAVING THIS TOWN. To those that miss the point of all us complaining about the tax: It's not that we don't want to improve the school system, WE ARE TIRED OF DURANT WASTING TAX MONEY! We didn't need to rebuild the 1st street parking lot, or the memorial thing in the NE corner of 1st and main. The retarded ammount of money this town WASTES every year could EASILY build 2 schools! Why pay until the year 2033 for this school! And we all know that once you get used to paying the tax after 26 years, there is no way in hell its going away
  • by Another Parent Location: Durant on Apr 3, 2008 at 04:34 PM
    My thought exactly. These county people can go ahead and take their business outside of Durant. So that makes it only fair if/when their children come to Durant business looking for them to advertise or donate to this or that cause they should definitely refuse, correct? So I guess they may actually be hurting their own kids in that situation.
  • by Kelly Location: Oklahoma on Apr 3, 2008 at 02:01 PM
    Oklahoma City did the same thing as Durant when they passed the MAPS for Kids tax. They have built several new schools in OKC and business and industries are now coming to OKC that would not have before. Maybe more jobs will also come to Durant if business leaders see progress in the Durant system. I'm sure those of you who do not live in the Durant school district do not like to pay for the tax - but I'm sure many of the local schools come to Durant to sell advertisements for their yearbooks, signs on their baseball and softball fields, etc. It is a two way street and I'm sure everyone will benefit when education is supported.
  • by More Sore Losers on Apr 3, 2008 at 12:13 PM
    So just because the issue passed it obviously had to be a padded election? Please! Get over it. That's just like some rediculous statement about watching tabulations online. The only election results online were on the Democrat's website after the final tally. Just get over it and quit trying to dream up some conspiracy.
  • by 109 RECOUNT 4 our kids Location: DURANT on Apr 3, 2008 at 10:08 AM
    With all the education in Durant. Will someone demand a recount on the padded election. The school YES party were watching tabulations online somewhere. Why were all the citizens in bryan county not allowed to veiw that????????????Please some wise attorney or rich tight wadd hire one DO something.4 OUR KIDS KIDS.
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