“The need is immediate,” Voters reject bond for new school while students learn in old grocery store

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SEMINOLE, Okla.-- Classes have gone from a building “deemed unsafe for humans” to a renovated grocery store, and it looks like things will not be changing any time soon for Seminole High School students.

For the second time in 18 months, 80 percent of voters in the community rejected a $21.5 million bond proposal that would have paid for a new high school.

The old Seminole High School is a beautiful building, but structural problems and mold have forced students and faculty members a few blocks north to another building.

"They're like the Marine Corps,” Seminole Public Schools Superintendent Alfred Gaches said. “They've adapted and overcome."

Last year, they adapted in just 13 days when the community teamed up with the school and made a old grocery store turned call center into a fully functioning high school. A bond to build a new one was shot down by voters for the second time Tuesday night.

"In my short time here my evaluation of this situation has been that there is no one in the community who doubts the need for a new high school,” Gaches said. “The only major dispute is the location of that high school."

The first proposal included the construction of new school east of town, but the location was considered primarily an industrial area.

The most recent bond called for a total remodel of the old high school and demolition of the north and south wings. It also included a new classroom facility and a new cafeteria. It would have cost $21.55 million. However, nearly 80 percent of voters said no.

"It's been interesting, It's been challenging,” Gaches said. "As you can see we are in very cramped spaces and the need is immediate."

So, school officials will regroup and come up with another plan that hopefully everyone will accept. Available space in town is scarce which limits location options for a new campus.

"My plan is to have that in the next four to five months, and hopefully be able to call another election in the spring,” Gache said.

In the meantime, school officials will be gathering input from voters to come up with the best solution.

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