Board of Juvenile Affairs approves changes to next-generation campus plans
by DARLA SLIPKE
Published: Thu, June 20, 2019 1:04 AM Updated: Thu, June 20, 2019 1:25 AM
Girls time spend time reading, engaging in limited daily outdoor activity and school in the Office of Juvenile Affairs detention center on Friday, June 9, 2017 in Norman, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
The Board of Juvenile Affairs voted Wednesday to approve modifications to plans for a "next-generation campus" for juvenile offenders.
Oklahoma has operated three secure facilities for juvenile offenders in recent years, but plans to consolidate those operations in the refurbished Tecumseh campus.
Original plans were to build nine cottages with a total of 144 beds to provide living quarters for all of the residents. However, bids came back higher than anticipated, officials said.
Board members approved some cost-saving changes Wednesday that will allow officials to build seven 16-bed cottages. They plan to refurbish several existing buildings so they will still have 144 beds total, said Next Generation Campus Coordinator Terry Smith.
Modifications the board approved include technology changes and eliminating ball field lighting. Youth aren't allowed out at night, so there was no need for the lighting, Smith said.
The original design included one large heating and air conditioning unit for each building. Switching to smaller units will save about $1 million, Smith said.
Other changes included forgoing work at the dining hall and eliminating some landscaping components. Smith said officials might be able to add some items back at the end of the process if funding allows. They hope to have some of the youth help with landscaping work and design later on, he said.
Legislation was passed by lawmakers and signed by former Gov. Mary Fallin in 2017 authorizing the issuance of $45 million in bonds to fund construction. Officials said consolidating campuses will save the state money, and the Office of Juvenile Affairs expects to be able to pay the bonds off without asking for increased appropriations.
Officials are preparing to start the design process. They expect to start demolition and utilities work next month.