The Norman Transcript

Education

December 2, 2013

Norman residents to vote on largest ever proposed school bond in district’s history

Board calls for $126M bond

NORMAN — Norman Public Schools Board of Education members approved a resolution authorizing an election for a proposed $126 million, five-year bond issue at its meeting Monday night.

The bond issue is the largest ever proposed in the school district’s history and would be paid back through property taxes levied within the district.

The resolution calls for an election Feb. 11 to vote on two ballot questions. The first will ask for $122,500,000 to provide funds for improving and acquiring school sites, constructing, repairing, remodeling and equipping school buildings and acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment.

The second question will ask for $3,500,000 to provide funds for transportation equipment.

Chris Cochran, an Oklahoma public finance managing director at Bosc, Inc., told board members that Oklahoma law requires transportation to be a separate ballot question.

After the board’s approval, Cochran said the resolution would be filed with the County Election Board by the end of the week.

The bond issue includes 90 projects to be completed throughout Norman Public Schools.

NPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano said an underlying piece of the bond resolution was being responsible for existing buildings and building on past bond projects, while working on adding classrooms to deal with overcrowding and investing in freshman academies and collegiate centers.

The school board also discussed whether the bond resolution would raise taxes and confirmed that factors within the school district’s control would not cause taxes to rise, such as the 2009 bond, which has been paid off by the district.

A significant amount of the bond issue would go to freshman academies and collegiate centers, with about $24 million for each Norman High School and Norman North High School. The freshman academies would include renovations and redesigning a portion of facilities.

“Freshman year is key,” Siano said. “If you walk into our high schools now, I don’t think you can differentiate between a freshman and a senior. But we think we should have an approach that gives freshmen a little more supervision and help during that transition.”

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