Tulsa Public Schools Bond Money A Concern In Consolidation Plan

Friday, April 1st 2011, 9:52 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Could Tulsa Public Schools' historic overhaul cheat some communities out of millions and millions of bond dollars?

Some Tulsa voters are outraged the schools they voted to improve could be closed.

3/31/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools: $1.1 Million In Bonds Committed To Sites That Could Close

Despite protests to the contrary, voters overwhelmingly approved a record $354 million bond issue. Now, Tulsa Public Schools wants to streamline the district to become more efficient, but some voters are crying foul.

"They did make a commitment to the voters and the city of Tulsa people. and they should not close any schools that they asked for money for," Jim Brock, a parent, said.

News On 6 education reporter Ashli Sims did some digging.

The district's consolidation plans include 25 schools that could be closed. All 25 were supposed to get money from the 2010 bond. That's more than $38 million in building upgrades alone.

Read all three Project Schoolhouse proposals

Addams Elementary School was earmarked for a $1.5 million makeover and $2 million was set aside for Burroughs. Both are slated for shutdown under all three consolidation plans.

At Burroughs, the district has already spent almost $80,000 to replace the doors.

There's $3.5 million in the 2010 bond for Nimitz Middle School. Two consolidation plans call for it to close, but the district says none of those dollars have been spent nor committed.

"Let me reassure you that we are not going to waste bond issue dollars," Dr. Keith Ballard, Superintendent, said. "We are very mindful of the sacredness of what the voters approve."

Dr. Ballard says the consolidation process should have started long before the bond election, but it didn't.

"We didn't know that we were going to get into this," he said. "We didn't know the legislature was going to reduce our budget by $20 million."

He says as the circumstances have changed, the district has to adjust, and he says the bond was written to give the district flexibility.

"If a school comes down and it absolutely is going to be closed, we don't have to spend those dollars on that school," he said. "We can divert those and we can go to another facility."

Tulsa Public Schools has already spent about a million dollars on schools that could be shutdown under at least one consolidation proposal. They're not expected to vote on a consolidation plan until early next month.

Related Stories:

4/1/2011 Parents, Kids Protest District's Proposal To Close Tulsa Elementary School
Consolidation Means Possible Expansion For Some TPS Programs
3/31/2011 Tulsa Public Schools: $1.1 Million In Bonds Committed To Sites That Could Close
3/31/2011 Tulsa Public Schools Revises Dates For Forums On School Consolidation
3/30/2011 TPS Proposal Would Make Rogers High School A College Magnet Program
3/30/2011 Tulsa Elementary Teachers Hope To Keep School Open
3/29/2011 TPS Parent: Community Will Fail If School Closes
3/29/2011 Some Say Eliminating Tulsa Middle Schools Would Benefit Students
3/29/2011 Neighbors Raise Concerns Over Possible Tulsa Elementary School Closures
3/29/2011 TPS Superintendent: District Spread Too Thin To Be Effective
3/29/2011 Tulsa Public Schools Could Close Up To 17 Schools