As you drive down Lee Boulevard, you cannot see much activity at the school farm, but hundreds of animals live on that farm during any given school year. Our FFA (Future Farmers of America) students look forward to filling those pens each year, but each student understands the difference between an empty stall and a full stall. No one gets up at 4 AM to take care of an empty pig pen, and no one has ever stayed up all night nursing an empty sheep stall. On the other hand, no one has ever made the sale with an empty pen, so everyone prefers them to be full of animals. Once that happens, however, things get messy fast. The animals may bring immeasurable blessings, but they also produce tons of extra work (and scooping).
The Lawton Fort-Sill community recently blessed Lawton Public Schools with unprecedented support, and we are eternally grateful for the extra work that comes with it. Last week, we shared about the progress of Eisenhower Middle School and the tornado safe rooms, but the 2017 Student Investment Program (SIP) was not just about those projects. Voters also approved a plethora of other items such as equipment for programs, classroom technology, furniture and upgrades for many of our facilities. Unexpected blessings often create unexpected work and unpredictable situations. Sometimes, people even disagree and get frustrated, but these are good problems to have. Our stalls are certainly full, and we are scooping as fast as we can to keep up!
We have finished the district-wide adoption of new textbooks and learning resources for all major subjects, and staff is now addressing specialized subjects for upwards of $5 million in textbooks in three short years. To build on that progress, the 2017 SIP allocated $550,000 in equipment annually for programs in our district that have not received much funding in recent years. Those funds have already been allocated to libraries, band, orchestra, athletics, agricultural education, and other programs. With so many needs, staff struggle with what to buy first, but that is the sort of scooping we appreciate. Over the next few years, we cannot imagine how this will transform our classrooms and programs.
The hardest work, however, has been in the furniture and technology areas. District-wide committees have been meeting since last spring to review needs and options. A model classroom was recently set up with furniture options, and every possible type of technology has been considered. This process has been frustratingly slow for everyone, but everyone also understands that we are starting a ten-year journey that will transform our classrooms. They are building a new foundation to ensure the greatest possible impact for our students. They are very close to purchasing the first round of technology and furniture.
Other projects like resurfacing all three of our high school tracks are ready for next summer. Our high school and middle school auditoriums will also receive new sound systems and other upgrades as soon as the final bids for Eisenhower Middle School come in. We are planning small projects, like repairing Ron Stephens’ Stadium wall as well. Some will not happen for a few years, but we are exploring ways to fast-track things like the air conditioning for MHS auditorium and upgrades to the ag farm.
This all reminds me of an ancient Jewish proverb: Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox. Everyone is working hard to responsibly and effectively manage the many blessings this community has provided Lawton Public Schools. Our pens may not look busy as you drive by, but they are full and messy. The 2017 SIP has increased work for everyone, but we welcome every bit of it, even the scooping.