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School Bond Money will help school libraries

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On November 9th, Tulsa voters will go to the polls to decide the fate of a new school bond issue. The plan calls for $109 million in improvements for Tulsa public schools. One improvement will be for libraries in the district.

The library is a popular place at Addams Elementary, but a crowded one.
Addams, like many other schools in the district, struggles to fit books, tables, computers and active children into cramped spaces. School officials say libraries and learning must change from just textbooks to interactive resources for children. "They need to be looking up information from resources,” said TPS libraries director Ellen Duecker. “They need to be looking up multiple kinds of materials, including electronic encyclopedias and the Internet as well as various print materials.”

Library improvements are part of the multi-million dollar bond package which includes more than $72 million for buildings and repairs, more than $6.5 million for libraries, around $25 million for textbooks and learning materials and almost $5 million for school buses.

Duecker says many libraries in the district fall below state and national standards.
Nimitz Middle School is among eight others scheduled for library expansion. But Duecker says all libraries will benefit from materials included in the plan. "There's a per pupil allocation -- $5.50 per child each year for new library books to continue through the three year bond period,” she said. “This will affect every school in the district and every child in the district."

At Addams, it could affect many families living in and near the west Tulsa community. School officials hope to keep the library and computer lab open evenings for everyone to use. Supporters say the bond plan is a fair one that helps schools throughout the district without raising taxes. "I think that's key to taxpayers,” said citizens bond committee member Rachel Maze. “I don't think we can say that often enough, particularly for the 74% who don't have kids in school. The tax rate remains level."

Maze urges the public to see for themselves how the 1996 bond helped schools, and vote to build upon that progress November 9th. Bond supporters are holding community forums on the bond issue for the next two weeks. To schedule a forum or find out where others are scheduled, call 261-0406.

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