Dear BPS Families,
We are excited to welcome our BPS alumni, current students and staff, families, and community members to celebrate homecoming with us tonight at Lee Snider Stadium. Over the past few days, it has been wonderful to see our high school students together building floats, participating in the downtown homecoming parade, decorating hallways, enjoying themed-dress days, and engaging in a high-energy pep assembly at Whitey Ford gym earlier today. Simply kids being kids! I have also observed a tremendous amount of spirit as I visited our other schools this week. I anticipate we will have a memorable time tonight honoring our homecoming court, watching our talented Pride of Bixby Band and JROTC groups, and being energized by our terrific cheer and dance squads. Of course, we’ll also have a football game involving the top-ranked Spartans - who are seeking their 41st consecutive victory - against the Patriots of Putnam City West. It’s going to be a great night!
I am also pleased to say that after navigating education during the COVID-19 pandemic for the past year and a half, we are getting closer to “normal” than ever before. While we continue to monitor COVID cases and trends on a daily basis, the recent decline in reported cases is bringing “cautious” optimism that we may be able to enjoy a more typical school year moving forward. Our Tulsa County case counts have brought the majority of our district back into the Orange-alert category, which is still considered high, but this is a significant improvement from the dark-red (severe risk) category we were in just a few weeks ago. Our district counts are mirroring these positive trends. As of Monday, we may have fewer than 15 student cases district-wide.
Despite this good news, we have still not met our target of being in the yellow category (determined by the county) for two consecutive weeks to begin loosening our protocols for allowing parents and other visitors into our buildings. Therefore, our teachers are moving forward with plans to conduct the upcoming parent-teacher conferences virtually. If COVID cases continue to trend downward, we are hopeful we may be able to adjust these practices in the very near future.
In other news, our district-wide Bond Issue Task Force met for the first time last Wednesday to begin the process of identifying and prioritizing potential projects for our next bond election in February 2022. This group of about 75 people - including administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community leaders - is helping us develop a long-term facilities plan to address our district’s rapid growth, as well as ensure all of our buildings and programs continue to be improved to meet the needs of our community.
The largest project on this bond issue will be the construction of an approximately 200,000 square foot, state-of-the-art academic building on the high school campus. We are currently meeting weekly with our architects and construction managers to design a facility which will serve our high school students for decades to come. Our goal is to create a place of powerful learning which will enhance opportunities for students to pursue their passions while building a solid foundation of skills, knowledge, and attitudes to foster their future success. If all goes according to plan, we anticipate a groundbreaking in late summer of 2022 and an opening in August of 2024.
This bond issue will also include upgrades at all of our schools as well as improvements to our athletic and fine arts facilities and academic programming. We are excited to soon begin sharing some of the group's ideas with the larger community and will be seeking your feedback on several of these projects in the next month. It is important to note that if this bond issue is passed it will NOT result in an increase of school taxes. It will simply extend the current millage rate for five or six additional years.
Finally, I want to take the opportunity again to express my appreciation to our amazing BPS teachers and staff members who have worked so hard to help students feel safe, connected, and valued over the past 18 months. They are a fantastic group! Even if another COVID surge comes in the future, I am confident our folks will rise to the occasion and continue to serve our students well no matter the circumstances.
Bixby really is a special place and I am honored to be a part of it. Thank you for your support and encouragement of me, our district and site leaders, and all of our staff during these challenging times. We value it greatly!