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May 3, 2013

Norman school district considers bond issue

NORMAN — Norman Public School officials are planning another major bond issue, perhaps as large as the $110 million, five-year package voters approved in 2009, a school administrator told the Norman Economic Development Coalition economic summit Thursday morning.

“We’re working on another bond issue,” Roger Brown told business leaders at Embassy Suites. “We have done great things, but we’re not finished.”

Brown said the new proposal will likely be $110 million to $115 million. The 2009 bond issue, the largest in the district’s history, funded 45 construction projects and nearly $14 million in technology upgrades. All of the projects should be completed this year, he said.

He encouraged the business men and women to visit Reagan Elementary on 24th Avenue SE, Norman’s 17th elementary school. He said it was a modern, secure school. “It’s an example of where we’re headed,” he said.

Brown was one of six community leaders who gave brief remarks Thursday. Also speaking were City Manager Steve Lewis, Norman Regional Hospital trust authority chair Robin Wiens, University of Oklahoma Vice President Daniel Pullen, Moore-Norman Technology Center Superintendent Jane Bowen and NEDC Executive Director Don Wood.

Brown said Norman schools receive less state money for operations than they did in 2007. The district has higher fixed costs and more students. The district has about 15,000 students and is growing at about 300 students a year.

Pullin, OU’s vice president of strategic planning and economic development, discussed the university’s efforts to grow and diversify the state’s economic future. He said the university has intensified efforts to commercialize faculty and student inventions with hopes of keeping those jobs in state.

Lewis detailed the city’s residential and commercial growth and ongoing challenges regarding the quality and quantity of water available. He said by 2060, the city could fall 20 million gallons of water short each day.

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