State of the Schools 2018

Norman Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino speaks during the Norman Chamber of Commerce State of Schools General Membership Lunch, Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, at The Hall at the Railhouse. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

Last week’s “The State of the Schools” luncheon had more to do with Norman Public Schools’ future than the present.

NPS Superintendent Nick Migliorino provided an overview of an upcoming $186 million school bond proposal that Norman voters will consider on Feb. 12, outlining a variety of projects that include safety and security upgrades, a new or renovated Dimensions Academy, and other infrastructure improvements.

“Bonds are steps in a long-term process. One builds on the other; they are not standalone issues,” he said. “Since 1972, the community of Norman has passed over $430 million in bonds in support of Norman Public Schools. Thank you for trusting us with that money, and I feel like we’ve done a good job of helping you realize your expectations for our schools.”

The presentation highlighted the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly membership luncheon at The Railhouse on Friday. The Chamber’s board hadn’t met yet to formally vote on whether to support the bond, and NPS administration and staff are not legally allowed to advocate for “yes” votes, but during the meeting Libbi Holbrook announced a community support organization, Vote For Kids, has been created to advocate for the bond’s passage.

The presentation included project-by-project costs for district-wide projects, as well as the per-school cost for a variety of infrastructure upgrades. Migliorino said the district identified more than $300 million worth of projects in a school-wide survey, and then prioritized them using an independent demographics study and a survey of parents, teachers and community members, as well as vendor data projections, historical data, statistical models and other information.

A key element of the bond, according to Migliorino, is ensuring all Norman schools have designated storm shelters. Those spaces will double as rooms for band, music and fine arts programs.

“Having nice facilities is also about hiring and retaining the best and brightest teachers when they have a choice, and we know parents have choices,” he said. “Facilities and technology, infrastructure, transportation, they all work together. We’ve been able to do what we’ve done because of our community support, and we don’t get all the funding from the state that we need to do what we know we can do. That was very apparent last [school] year.”

An expansion of the Nancy O’Brian Center for Performing Arts, new turf at Harve Collins Field and transportation purchases/upgrades are also in the bond. Migliorino emphasized the importance of locating or building a new, centralized Dimensions Academy.

“We change lives at Dimensions,” he said of the facility, which provides an alternative education setting for NPS students. “It’s an area sorely underfunded by the state, and we need to have a facility for those students that their families and our staff can truly be proud of.”

District-wide projects

• Technology purchases, including student laptops, library technology and instructional technology — $20.7 million

• Software subscriptions, textbooks and instructional materials — $17.07 million

• Interior and exterior door security improvements — $5.67 million

• Transportation equipment purchases and safety upgrades — $3.5 million

• Playground safety surfacing — $2.17 million

• Playground equipment — $1.71 million

• Painting — $1.67 million

• Library/media equipment and materials — $1.155 million

• Maintenance/utility vehicles and equipment — $935,000

• Playground shade structures — $875,000

• Furniture — $500,000

• Physical education and athletic equipment — $500,000

• Fine arts equipment and materials — $500,000

• Health services equipment, including AEDs — $150,000

Per school expenditures:

• Norman North — $22.78 million

• Norman High — $16.43 million

• Dimensions Academy — $11.86 million

• Longfellow Middle School — $10.4 million

• Nancy O’Brian Performing Arts Center — $7.82 million

• Adams Elementary — $7.78 million

• Madison Elementary — $5.8 million

• Washington Elementary — $4.19 million

• Jefferson Elementary — $4.06

• Alcott Middle School — $4.01 million

• Jackson Elementary — $3.97 million

• McKinley Elementary — $3.42 million

• Wilson Elementary — $3.27 million

• Eisenhower Elementary — $2.92 million

• Lincoln Elementary — $2.74 million

• Monroe Elementary — $2.62 million

• Whittier Middle School — $2.62 million

• Cleveland Elementary — $2.58 million

• Truman Elementary — $1.97 million

• Kennedy Elementary — $1.38 million

• Irving Middle School — $1.36 million

• Roosevelt Elementary — $770,000

• Truman Primary School — $255,000

• Administrative Services Building — $205,000

• Reagan Elementary — $165,000

• Harve Collins Field — $155,000

• Instructional Services Center — $85,000

• Central Services Center — $75,000

• Health Services Center — $55,000

Caleb Slinkard was hired as the editor of the Norman Transcript in August of 2015. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce and previously was in charge of several newspapers in northeast Texas.