Tuesday the Superintendent of Barnsdall Public Schools Jeff Lay held several public forums for parents as well as Barnsdall residents. While much the forum focused on the upcoming bond proposal, Lay also discussed testing and funding. Lay highlighted that parents should not be concerned when they receive their students testing scores as this was the first year to test under the new Oklahoma standard. He also emphasized the current budget and funding issues the school is facing, specifically because of state funding cuts. However it was discussion regarding the upcoming proposed bond that stole the show.
Lay wished to express that the new bond proposal will focus on maintenance rather than new construction. While there will be some new buildings on the Barnsdall campus if the bond passes the focus will be on resolving the schools number one concern, water.
If the bond passes the campus would see all of the remaining buildings undergoing repairs. Two building would be demolished, the current student activity center and a rock building which is no longer safe for use. The campus would also lose the tennis courts and outdoor basket ball courts, neither of which have been maintained. The bond would also see the construction of a new sports facility with a weight room, mat room for wrestling and cheer, as well as dressing rooms and locker rooms for both home and away athletes. The existing “old indoor pool building” would become the new student activity center, Family and Consumer Sciences Building, and administrative office. At the time of the meeting there was not a speculated cost for the bond proposal, however Lay stated it would be similar to the previous bond at 5 million dollars.
Lay will announce another public forum once they have received the finalized plans from Keith D. Robertson Architects and construction cost estimates. Currently the bond is proposed to be on the ballot for Barnsdall residents on February 13, 2018.
This week the Osage County Health Department Administrator Larry Bergner presented information regarding the current state of the Health Department in Osage County specifically in reference to funding and the ongoing budget shortfall at the state level. Bergner built on a discussion which began last week regarding the use of taxpayer funds and ongoing furloughs throughout the department due to state budget issues. Bergner said that Osage County is still good on funding for health department services with the exception of salary which is paid by the state. The county health department is sitting on approximately 3.3 million dollars which has been generated by the county's sales tax allotment. However, those funds cannot be used towards employee salary, therefor the County is reliant of the state for salary funding. Berger discussed the states misrepresentation and mismanagement of funds with regards to the current furloughs.
The furloughs add to the already existing issue of keeping qualified and certified medical practitioners and educators on payroll. Bergner said though he is optimistic that with the change in leadership, with the resignation Dr. Terry Cline and the appointment of Preston Doerflinger as the Interim Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner, that the Osage County Health Department will be able to utilize their funds for more County projects such as a Health Annex in Skiatook and more involvement in Community Projects. Dr. Cline was oppose to a Skiatook annex and tied the County's hands each time the discussion was brought forward. Bergner continued to discuss how the department continues to help the county including educational outreach and health programs, and answered questions from the board and audience. The next meeting of the Osage County Commissioners will be next Monday at the Osage County Courthouse in Pawhuska.
Listen to Larry Bergner's Complete discussion by following the link.
Much of the Monday meeting of the Osage County Commissioners was business as usual, including the approval to hire a new Executive Director for Osage County Tourism Oversight Committee, and accepting quarterly reports from the Osage County Senior Nutrition Program.
The Commissioners approved the hire of Kelly Bland for the Executive Director position with Osage County Tourism. Bland was most recently in the Abilene, TX area before moving to Tulsa. Claude Rosendale with the Tourism Committee stated that she was by far the best qualified of the many candidates they had received. The Commissioners after reviewing Bland's resume agreed and approved the hire.
Kim Vincent brought forward more troubling news with regards to their uncertain budget. The Counties Nutrition Program was redistributed $98,000 which was pulled from the county's budget earlier this year, however more cuts are likely to occur on the upcoming budget. Statewide the nutrition programs are currently slated for an additional $215,000 cut. The current budget will need to be modified once again cutting anywhere from 5 to 6,000 more dollars from the county's budget. The last cut resulted in the closing of the kitchen in Barnsdall.
The Osage County Commissioners will meet again next Monday at the Osage County Courthouse in Pawhuska.