City council hears updates from SPS and city staff, police to receive new equipment

Sapulpa Public Schools Superintendent Rob Armstrong gave updates on the state of the district’s schools at Monday evening’s City Council study session.

Several Councilors and staff had questions for Armstrong, covering topics such as the likelihood of winter sports going forward, any problems they’ve had with the mask requirement, the severity of the illness for those students and teachers who have gotten sick, and if the masks are preventing the number and severity of cases. 

Armstrong reported, “I’ve had more problems with dress code than with masks. I think people understand, and I think our approach…has been successful.” He further stated that the district’s color code system is working, in part, he believes, due to its objectivity and the administration’s adherence to the plan. “The only issues are big events like football games, and we’re working our way through that,” he stated. He said that the intention is for winter sports to go on as usual, but with a limited number of spectators and mask and social distancing requirements. 

The Superintendent went on to say that he “absolutely” attributes the low transmission of COVID within the schools to the use of masks, along with strict social distancing and hand washing. He said that the schools “work every day with the Creek County Health Department” and that he believes that “the data and scientific research support what we’re seeing” in the schools.  

Asked by Councilor Suggs whether he would “be concerned about the quality of school if [they] were forced to close” due to the pandemic, Armstrong replied, “No, not at all. We’re getting better and the resources are getting better. I don’t have any concerns.”

Urban Development Director Nikki Howard spoke about the Downtown Master Plan Design Charette hosted by consultants Ochsner, Hare, and Hare last month. There was a discussion over the consultants’ suggestion that a liaison between the City and the Downtown Master Plan Stakeholders Committee be appointed to coordinate the project. City Manager Joan Riley said that this is something she plans to explore further.

Ochsner, Hare, and Hare will return in early January 8th for a work session with the City Council and the Planning Commission and again in March for another public open house. The plan is slated to be finished in early May. 

The Council was tasked with making a decision on where to allocate $1.6 million of recently-received CARES reimbursement funds. $50K was earmarked for electronic and acoustic improvements to the Council Chamber, but Councilors Suggs and Naifeh felt that this warranted more due diligence before approving. Councilors Naifeh and Beyer requested that this issue go through the Administration and Finance Committee first, at Thursday’s meeting.  It was, however, approved to distribute $200K to purchase new tasers and body cameras for the police department.

Parks Director Jody Baker spoke on the ongoing progress at the Bartlett Youth Sports Complex. Civil engineering work will keep water off the south fields and is expected to cost around $250K. There are also plans to implement the foundation for new lighting at the complex. 

New Police Chief Mike Reed presented a request to the Council for funding for new equipment. The equipment includes 10 new rifles for the SWAT team. Reed reported that the department’s current rifles are over twenty years old and have been malfunctioning. He also would like to purchase four additional pepper ball guns so each squad may have one at its disposal in the case of “civil unrest.” 

Reed also received funding for various items at the Animal Control Department, which is under his purview. Some of the funds will be used to send an officer to training school, some to repair an air conditioning issue, and the rest to improve the department’s technological firewall. 

E. B. Thompson

E. B. Thompson

Elizabeth Thompson is the News Editor for Sapulpa Times.
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