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."
The high schools could be completed as soon as 2004, but a project schedule has not been set.
The sales tax will start at a half-cent on Jan. 1. It will increase to a penny at the expiration of a half-cent public safety sales tax in 2003.
The city district won't be the only beneficiary of the sales tax. Thirty percent of the sales tax revenue will be split on a per-student basis among 23 suburban districts with boundaries that overlap city limits.
The bond issue will increase property taxes on a $100,000 home by about $40 a year when it first hits the tax rolls in 2003, school officials estimate. Property taxes will increase gradually as more bonds are issued.
A city trust will oversee construction and money from both proposals.
Until Tuesday, district voters had approved four bond issues in 30 years. The last victory came in 1993, but the proposal that primarily promised to install air conditioning units in all schools was plagued by cost overruns, equipment failures and delays.
Voters narrowly rejected bond proposals in 1999 and 2000.
But since the last defeat, the district has a new superintendent, a new school board chairman and an unusual city- school partnership that garnered unparalleled support from the business community.
That wasn't enough to convince Steve Holmes to vote for the plan.
The northwest Oklahoma City resident voted against both issues, saying he worried renovation estimates were too high. He said the district would be better off demolishing more of the old schools and building more new ones that are cost- efficient and able to support newer technology.
"The last bond issue they tried was bad, too," he said. "They say it's different people in charge now, but I think it's the same philosophy. I don't know how you change that."
Tom Roach, chairman of Brighter Futures for Families and Children, has said pouring more money into the district is a waste. He said he prefers tax credits to allow poor children to attend private schools.
Roach's committee treasurer, Jack Grimes, was one of five people who asked the state Supreme Court to halt the election. The court refused to block the election but said it would consider whether a 1999 law allowing sales tax money to be used for school improvements is constitutional.
If the court agrees, Oklahoma
City and two other cities that
have passed school sales tax
measures would be affected.