Tulsa Public Schools Bond Issue Covers Needs At Several School

Thursday, February 19th 2015, 6:21 pm

Tulsa Public schools has a major school bond vote coming up.

The district is asking voters to approve $415 million dollars for new projects, which makes it one of the largest school bonds in state history. The bond money would reach every student and every building from elementary to high school.

But not every school has the same needs, so while at Lee Elementary, the school needs a roof, but they have a new cafeteria, other schools need both of those things.

2/15/2015 Related Story: 'Yes For TPS' Group Pushes For Bond Issue Passage

There's not much room to walk in the kitchen at Cooper Elementary, and not much room to cook either. Or wash dishes. Or store food.

“For 800 kids, breakfast and lunch, right here,” cafeteria manager Sandra Ferrera said.

There are 800 students at Cooper, and that's twice as many as the cafeteria was designed to handle.

So there's a plan to build a new kitchen and enlarge the dining area. It's a $1 million expansion so food can stored where it belongs, instead of wherever there's room at the moment.

“These are just for breakfast,” Fererra said. “Why are they here? Because we don't have room over there.”

The bond manager for TPS said Cooper will be get more than just a kitchen and larger cafeteria: The rest of the school will get a $2.4 million renovation.

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They'll add efficient lighting that saves more than it costs and repaint everything and update the basics like plumbing.

"Makes a big impact,” TPS bond director Bob LaBass said. “We'll be putting in new lockers, new ceiling, new flooring. It makes the school almost look brand new."

Cooper is like many Tulsa Public Schools buildings -- it's been a long time since it's had a major renovation. And in the meantime, the needs of the students have changed, especially with technology.

The renovation will add the computer infrastructure that modern schools need.

But a full third of the money spent on Cooper will go for the very basic need of a bigger kitchen, room for the students to eat, and room for the cafeteria to handle the food they have.

"We have to make miracles when the truck is coming,” Ferrera said. “We have to make miracles in the storeroom and the refrigerator."

If approved, the school bond would keep property taxes at the current level.

The vote is March 3.