Vote 'yes' on NPS school bond

As a parent of children who are currently enrolled in Norman Public Schools and Chairwoman of the 2019 Vote for Kids Committee, I write to urge this community to vote YES on February 12 on Bond Propositions 1 & 2. We live in tornado alley yet do not have FEMA-rated shelters in 16 of 25 school facilities. We have schools without functioning air conditioning, where walking a hallway causes one to break a sweat. The opposite is true in winter when one can see their breath indoors.

Our playgrounds are not handicap accessible and without shade structures, the sun renders many pieces of playground equipment useless during recess. My children have never visited an elementary music room -- "portables" have substituted as permanent structures. We have leaky roofs that simulate waterfalls at times and furniture, paint, and floor coverings that were last touched before our current senior class was born.

We have once in vogue "open campuses" at two middle schools which present serious security issues. And we have an entire school campus, Dimensions Academy, which resides in a rundown state facility, in which state law prevents improvements.

This is not the school environment I imagined when I sent my kids to Cleveland Elementary, an award-winning Norman Public School. Unfortunately, these challenges (and many more) are more prevalent than any of us want to admit.

I applaud NPS for finally taking the initiative to create a comprehensive plan that addresses many of these issues. An impressive list of renovation and construction projects were completed with the bond approved by Norman voters five years ago -- on time and within budget.

Current Propositions 1 & 2 were thoughtfully devised with input from site staff, district leaders, and parent groups, and included community input through an online survey. I enthusiastically support this long-term plan as opposed to a patchwork process previously used. With updated facilities, more energy and resources can be focused on the important teaching/learning inside the classroom.

Some are saying we need smaller plans instead of this massive bond proposition.

A large-scale plan like this offers economies of scale as similar projects are tackled at diverse sites, helping to stretch the budget to its maximum potential.

Bond issues are a tremendous undertaking with regard to research, evaluation, bidding, compilation, presentation, and education.

Shorter-term bond propositions require constant attention to this process that is which is labor and time intensive -- and requires resources our cash-strapped education system just can't handle.

Additionally, the cost to put on elections and pay for bond issuances makes these smaller issues less cost effective for taxpayers.

For years Norman residents have enjoyed the benefits of excellent schools with minimum financial outlay. NPS Bond Propositions 1 & 2 are worth the investment in our future. If they fail, the only ones who lose are our students. I urge you to join me in voting "YES" on February 12. Our kids deserve better.

Libbi Holbrook

Norman

School bond will benefit arts programs

I am writing to encourage voters, with every breath I take, to vote yes on both bond issues February 12. Norman Public Schools has been my family's home since 1979. Between my teaching career, my son's and daughter's years in the schools, and now my granddaughters, our family has been a part of thirteen school communities.

We have seen the needs up close, and our lives are enriched by Norman Public Schools. I'm the fourth-generation teacher in my family, and NPS educated the fifth and sixth generation teachers.

This bond has been carefully crafted to address the identified needs of our stakeholders -- parents, teachers, students, community. We will be able to secure every entrance of every school.

We will be able to provide storm shelters in every school (I've sat on the floor of the boys' bathroom at an elementary during a tornado drill, and it was not fun!).

The second bond will provide new buses and technology. Norman is one of the very few districts in Oklahoma that uses bond money to buy texts and library books. With funding cuts from the state, many other districts have not done this for years. In Norman, funding for both is a part of every bond, including this one. I want to talk, though, about two focus areas that affect my family the closest. Norman arts programs are world leaders.

My son is a professor of trumpet because of the education he received in the music department of Norman Public Schools.

The foundation he received was second to none. My granddaughter is pursuing her visual arts education degree, again, with the strong support of the dedicated teachers in our public schools.

Her arts departments had to sell candy bars between classes to raise money for supplies because dollars just didn't stretch far enough.

The Nancy O'Brian Center for the Performing Arts is a local arts mecca for the entire community. It needs to be refurbished. We need to take care of this gem.

Dimensions Academy is our alternative education center for students in long-term extreme conditions, and short-term crisis situations. Some students spend several years in this school, others attend to collect the credits they need to graduate.

This bond includes funds to create a new Dimensions, a center that reflects the work of teachers and students, that acknowledges the value of these students who face crises and might simply drop out of school. NPS will invest more funding for our one school than the state of Oklahoma invests in all alternative education. I'm so proud of this project.

Yes, there will be an increase in millage … about the cost of a fancy cup of coffee each month, or one hoodie per year. In my mind, our kids are worth that, and more.

Please vote for kids. Vote yes on both bond propositions.

Claudia Swisher

Norman

Polar vortex doesn't mean globe isn't warming

With all the news about the polar vortex bringing sub-zero temperatures to the upper midwest, it was inevitable that some public figure would weigh in with a snide comment about global warming. Sen. Inhofe famously brought a snowball into the Senate chamber to illustrate his disdain for the prospect of global warming. This time it was President Trump commenting about the bone chilling cold in the midwestern states that we could use some of that global warming now.

I want to get a big rubber stamp that says, "Ignorant Fool," and everytime some public figure makes a snide comment that illustrates their disbelief in global warming, I'd run up and stamp IGNORANT FOOL in red ink on their forehead. Because this is exactly what global warming looks like. Global warming disrupts climate patterns.

The earth's weather patterns become more extreme. More severe storms. Stronger hurricanes. Frequent and longer droughts. Bigger fires in forests and grasslands. Melting polar icecaps. Rising sea level. Heavier rainfall. Bigger floods. And, yes, more severe winters.

It's heartbreaking to see public figures reveling in their ignorance. They should all keep this quote on their desks, the author of which I forget: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt."

Dale Wares

Norman

Citizens United Supreme Court decision embedded two-party system

Citizens United decision ensured that our country has a two party system. Why?

We now have a Supreme Court sanctioned ruling class of the most wealthy. It will take an all hands on deck approach by the people to counter act the billions spent on disinformation and propaganda to keep the masses (peasants) oblivious to their goal of resuming a feudal system.

This, in turn, makes dictators like Putin deliriously happy.

Our elections TODAY revolve around money.

If you care about your country returning to democracy, do not give into multiple political parties until the day we can undo the damage of Citizens United and have real campaign reform. The people have to regain our founders dreams of a government FOR the people and OF the people.

Phyllis Klugas

Newcastle

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.