ShareVoters OK MAPS for Kids

Voters OK MAPS for Kids

By Christy Watson and Jack Money Published: November 14, 2001
Voters delivered hope to the struggling Oklahoma City School District on Tuesday, approving a pair of tax increases to finance an unprecedented school rebuilding plan worth nearly $700 million.

The so-called MAPS for Kids plan includes a $512 million, seven-year city sales tax that passed easily and an $180 million bond issue for the city district that passed by fewer than 400 votes.

"In this election, every vote counted," Mayor Kirk Humphreys said while declaring victory from a Bricktown restaurant where several hundred supporters had gathered.

"We had moms out canvassing neighborhoods Saturday. We had a lot of people sending postcards to friends. We had firefighters putting out signs. ... Not one bit of effort was wasted."

Voter turnout was higher than normal for a city or school election, with about one in four registered voters deciding on each proposal, county election officials said. Eight percent to 15 percent turnout is typical.

The sales tax passed with about 60.6 percent approval, according to unofficial results. The final tally was 36,866 for and 23,989 against.

The bond issue passed with about 61 percent approval, barely clearing the 60 percent "supermajority" needed for passage. The issue had 20,932 for and 13,386 against.

Cliff Hudson, chairman of the Oklahoma City School Board, said many people deserved credit and thanks for the victory.

"But there's no one we need to thank more than the people of Oklahoma City," he said.

Hudson said the district and the coalition that drafted the MAPS for Kids plan did a good job of detailing school needs.

"We can also be proud of the fact that at a time when education is on the lips of people across the country, we here in Oklahoma City didn't just talk about it," he said.

The plan calls for the closure of 21 schools, seven new schools, at least $1 million in renovations at nearly every remaining school and academic reforms. Only the year-old Van Buren Elementary won't receive money.

Construction should be finished in 2009. That's when district officials have said all portable buildings will be gone and schools will have modern technology.

The plan would phase out nearly all of the district's middle schools. They'll be replaced with three grade combinations: kindergarten through eighth grade schools; combined junior high-high schools; and kindergarten through sixth grade schools that feed into one of two seventh- and eighth-grade schools.

Consultants who helped develop the plan predict elementary school enrollment will rise from an average of 352 students per school to 592 within seven years.

City and school officials hope three new high schools -- Douglass, Grant and John Marshall -- will be among the first projects finished with the tax money to serve as "showpieces."

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