Bond issue could help get city school district ‘to the next level'

By Wendy K. Kleinman Published: August 23, 2007
MAPS for Kids was a short-term solution to bolster the Oklahoma City Public Schools district, Mayor Mick Cornett said during a Wednesday news conference.

To keep up the level of improvement and maintenance achieved under MAPS for Kids in the long term, the district needs voters to pass a $248.3 million bond issue on Oct. 9, he said.

Cornett, along with Cliff Hudson, chairman of the Oklahoma City School Board, announced the formation of the Citizens for Kids campaign to convince voters to go to the polls and approve the bond package.

Tax and education values
If the proposal passes, new bonds will be issued as the MAPS for Kids bonds are paid off, and the tax levy will remain the same, Hudson said.

"This will not increase our citizens' taxes,” he said.

But if the bond issue does not pass, the tax level would slowly decrease over about five years, he said.

The bond issue is necessary so the district doesn't slide back to where it was before MAPS for Kids, Hudson said.

"(The district has) assets in the order of a billion dollars. It's no different from my business; it's no different from this (downtown) library; it's no different from the city; it's no different from your home,” Hudson said.

"If you don't maintain it, its value goes down.”

High threshold
Still, getting enough votes won't be easy, Citizens for Kids leaders said. Sixty percent of voters must vote "yes” for a school bond issue to be approved, according to the state constitution.

That's why the campaign aims to raise $400,000 to sponsor community meetings, engage PTA groups, mail pamphlets and pay for advertisements, Hudson said.

Two weeks into the campaign, about 20 businesses have helped Citizens for Kids raise two-thirds of that, said David Bialis, finance chairman for the group and president of Cox Communications of Oklahoma.

Bialis said he expects the group will need to spend more than $400,000 for the campaign.

"I don't think there is a ceiling on it because when you need to get 60 percent, that's a tough challenge,” he said.

Companies like Bialis' are important to the coalition because businesses depend on educated employees and because the city depends on a quality education system to attract new businesses, said J.

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What would $248.3 million buy Oklahoma City Public Schools?
50 more classrooms

47 gyms across the district to accommodate growth

New school buses

New heating and air

conditioning systems Technology and safety initiatives


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