TULSA Public Schools looking at another bond issue proposal

Wednesday, May 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

It's back to the bonds for Tulsa Public Schools. The district will ask voters to approve a multi-million dollar school bond package this fall, a year earlier than scheduled. In a letter to community leaders, Superintendent David Sawyer said Tulsa's healthy economy would allow the district to speed up its bond program to make needed improvements.

KOTV's Glenda Silvey explains. Superintendent David Sawyer says the district has already spent 99-bond issue money at several schools as part of the district's 20-year plan. Though the next election was scheduled for fall 2002, Sawyer says property values have increased at a rate that will allow acceleration of the bond program, without increasing taxes. Rachael Maze, who chaired the last Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, thinks it's a good idea. "In order to keep the taxes at the same level, and not have them go down, then go up, we need to run it just a little bit earlier. We're looking at probably a little bit more than 100 million."

Bond Projects Director Bob LaBass says that's what it will take to keep up with improvements in the long-range plan. "Our schools are 40 years of age on average. We've got Carver in there for some renovation; Marshall, Wright - there's 19 sites we're looking at doing a total renovation on in this project." LaBass says the largest project will be renovation of Hale High School, which hasn't had improvements since it opened in 1958. The package also includes transportation, technology, and learning materials.

A citizen committee will develop the list of improvements to be included in the bond proposal; working from what Maze says was a fact-based plan. "It wasn't 'I want this,' or 'this is my favorite school,' or 'I went there.' It was actually based on the age of the roof, the age of the air conditioner the age of the building." Maze says the long-range plan eventually improves at all 80 sites. LaBass says the district is keeping its pledge not to raise taxes, and hopes citizens agree to support needed improvements at Tulsa Public Schools. Maze says the district will begin forming its citizen oversight committee immediately.

The group is expected to develop a list of projects to be included in the bond package within a couple of months. Tulsa's School Board must approve the plan before it's presented to voters.