Editor's note: This is part four of four in a series looking at how Ardmore City Schools has been impacted by the Vision 2020 initiative.
From professional development for public school teachers to expanded opportunities for higher education locally, the education system in Ardmore has been evolving over the past 10 years. One of the most striking changes across Ardmore City Schools since the Vision 2020 initiative started a decade ago is the amount of construction that has been started since 2013, when a ¼ percent sales tax increase was first approved by Carter County voters.
Over $53 million in school bonds have also been approved by voters since 2014 for upgrading or replacing facilities and vehicles.
According to documents from school officials, Ardmore City Schools spent an average of $234,400 per year on building and land upgrades between 2009 and 2013. Between 2014 and 2017, the most recent and complete data available, the school system spent an average of $6.2 million per year on building and land upgrades.
Before the countywide sales tax was approved in 2013, many of the biggest construction projects across the entire Ardmore City Schools district were related to roof upgrades and repairs. The district spent nearly $1.2 million on all building and land improvements between 2009 and 2013. A $390,700 upgrade to the gym roof at Ardmore High School was the most expensive capital improvement project in that time.
In fact, the top three most expensive capital improvement projects during that five-year period were related to roof upgrades. Along with work on the high school gym roof in 2009, roof work at Charles Evans Intermediate in 2010 and Jefferson Elementary in 2011 accounted for nearly 80% of all building upgrades between 2009 and 2013. Playground equipment purchased for elementary schools in 2011 accounted for about half of all land improvements in that same time period.
These costs are dwarfed by capital improvement spending by ACS since 2014. Major expenses over the past five years have included a nearly $12.5 million rebuild of Lincoln Elementary in 2016 and nearly $4 million in additions to Will Rogers Elementary in 2017. Other major projects in recent years include a new gym for students at Jefferson Elementary and extensive renovations of Lincoln Elementary.
These costs are only related to building and land improvements and do not necessarily include all spending.
The pace of capital improvement spending does not show signs of stopping before 2020. The approval of a $44 million bond issue in April, which includes construction of a performing arts center, will be reflected in capital improvement spending as projects are completed.