SUPPORTING THE SCHOOLS: Elizabeth Martin, left, Memorial High School principal, and Karen Gilbert, a member of the Tulsa Council of PTA’s and also president of the Memorial High School PTA, are working hard for the passage of the TPS Bond Issue, set for March 2.
SHARON CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
Tulsans will have the opportunity to vote March 2 on the 2010 Tulsa Public Schools Bond Issue, a comprehensive $354 million bond proposal that will not raise taxes.
“It is a proven fact that better schools have a direct impact on the quality of life of a city and lead to better neighborhoods, so this bond issue benefits everyone who calls Tulsa home,” said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent. “However, with 97 percent of the buildings at more than 30 years old, we still have a long way to go, and Tulsa’s children deserve safe, up-to-date facilities and high-quality learning environments,” he added.
Developed over the past year by the Citizens’ Bond Development Committee, comprised of a group of citizens, educators and community leaders, the proposal is a continuation of the citizen-led, 20-year plan that began in 1995-96. A watchdog Bond Oversight Committee ensures monies are spent as promised and keeps tax rates level.
By law, bond money must be spent for “bricks and mortar” and tangible items such as textbooks and buses. Bond funds cannot be used for salaries for teachers, support personnel, or administrators. Also, a 60-percent supermajority vote is required for passage of bond issues.
The 2010 bond campaign chairpersons are Victoria Bartlett, Joe McGraw, Julius Pegues, Margarita Trevino, and Henry Zarrow.
The proposal allocates $261.4 million for building construction and repairs and addresses new facilities, classroom additions, heating and air conditioning, replacing aging windows and roofs, and other needs most would consider as basic necessities.
Other bond allocations include the following:
•Libraries. More than $19 million is earmarked for libraries, including six new libraries.
•Textbooks, Learning Materials, Technology. More than $61 million is devoted to textbooks, classroom learning materials and technology infrastructure, including new computer workstations and other technology equipment to improve student productivity. The new technology will allow students’ families to access curriculum materials and other information via the Internet, something that currently cannot be done.
•Security. “School safety is paramount,” stressed Trevino. “This bond issue includes significant improvements to safely control entry access points at all sites and adds and improves surveillance camera systems to make schools safer not only for students and teachers, but for family members, workers and others who visit school sites.
•Buses. More than 10,000 students ride school buses daily. Bond funds will replace aging buses that are costing more money in maintenance and have higher fuel costs. New, more fuel-efficient buses will provide safe, reliable, and more cost-effective student transportation. The bond issue’s transportation component also includes updating transportation computer software so that bus routes are conducted in a safer environment and allow for fewer late arrivals.
•Fine Arts and PE. Schools also will receive fine arts equipment, band instruments, and band uniforms. Many schools lack adequate physical education facilities. The bond issue includes funding for PE equipment and new facilities.
“The bottom line is that passing this bond issue is the smart thing to do and it will not raise taxes, because new bonds will only be issued as existing bonds are retired,” McGraw explained.
“We are playing catch up with many of the suburban school districts,” Pegues said. “We’ve made significant strides in addressing our aging school system with passage of the previous four bond issues, and it is essential that we continue that momentum and legacy.”
For additional information, contact campaign headquarters at 946-1317 or visit the Web site at www.DoTheSmartThingTulsa.com.