By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
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.”
Collegiate centers would be set up to help students transition out of high school, with space for seminars and the opportunity to collaborate more with local colleges.
“It used to be OK to say we want them to graduate,” Siano said. “But now I think we want to say we’ve done more than that, that we’ve prepared them to make decisions afterward. We’ve helped them discover how to be prepared for career tech, college or the world of work.”
Other projects the bond issue will address include:
· Norman High School: partial roofing replacement, theater improvements, band building and storage area renovation, soccer/softball facility parking lot improvements and athletic facility improvements.
· Norman North High School: improve existing athletic buildings, construction of additional tennis courts and construction of new ticket booth for outdoor sports.
· Harve Collins Field: improvements like that of a new ticket booth and new track fencing
· Alcott Middle School: security improvements to school entry, partial roof replacement and new softball storage facility
· Irving Middle School: additional classrooms, certain perimeter classroom renovations, new softball storage facility with restrooms and concessions and new middle school wrestling facility
· Longfellow Middle School: security improvements to school entry, office/library renovation, partial roof replacement, HVAC replacement and new softball storage facility with restrooms and concessions
· Whittier Middle School: additional paving to assist with students’ pick-up and drop-off, certain perimeter classroom renovations, new softball storage facility with restrooms and concessions and new middle school wrestling facility
· Adams Elementary School: window replacements, cafeteria flooring and classroom renovations
· Cleveland Elementary School: main office improvements including security enhancements at the school entry, partial roof replacement and certain restroom renovations
· Eisenhower Elementary School: security improvements to school entry and remodeling open area to include multiple closed classrooms
· Jackson Elementary School: main office improvements including security enhancements to school entry and certain classroom and corridor finish renovations
· Jefferson Elementary School: cafeteria flooring replacement
· Kennedy Elementary School: security improvements to school entry and remodeling open area to include multiple closed classrooms
· Lakeview Elementary School: certain parking lot resurfacing
· Lincoln Elementary School: additional classrooms, partial roof replacement and constructing new cafeteria area
· Madison Elementary School: certain lighting upgrades
· McKinley Elementary School: partial roof replacement
· Monroe Elementary School: main office improvements including security enhancements to school entry and certain classroom renovations
· Reagan Elementary School: additional classrooms
· Roosevelt Elementary School: partial roof replacement
· Truman Elementary School: partial roof replacement
· Washington Elementary School: partial roof replacement
· Wilson Elementary School: security improvements to school entry, partial roof replacement and certain classroom and corridor finish upgrades and renovations
· Dimensions School: acquire furniture
· Administrative Services Center: site work and certain drainage improvements and additional parking space
· Central Service Center: certain asphalt resurfacing, additional lighting, partial roof replacement and certain new maintenance equipment acquisition
· Instructional Services Center: facility renovation/remodeling, computer center equipment acquisition and installation, elevator acquisition and installation, fire suppression sprinkler system installation and furniture acquisition
· Professional Development Center: certain window repair and improvements, restroom upgrades and certain interior painting
Additionally, district-wide, the bond will acquire and install technology equipment for all schools as funds allow; acquire textbooks and instructional materials; and acquire transportation vehicles, furniture and physical education and athletic equipment as needed.
Dr. Roger Brown, NPS assistant superintendent of administrative services, reminded the Board of Education that with the previous 2009 bond, a lot of money went into remodeling NPS elementary schools.
Siano said it should be noted that schools with fewer improvements slotted for the bonds were a focus of the 2009 bond and that all bonds should be seen as building upon one another.
More information about the $126 million bond will be available at norman.k12.ok.us by the first week of January.
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