THE defeat of school bond issues often bring a call to change the law that requires they garner 60 percent approval by voters. We heard none of that this week from Cushing school officials who saw a proposal voted down.
Instead, Superintendent Koln Knight said simply, “It's been quite an education process, and it looks like we have more to do.”
Voters gave 50.5 percent approval to a $41.5 million package that would have resulted in a new middle school, two new gymnasiums, upgrades to the high school auditorium and other improvements. Knight pointed out that Cushing has enjoyed strong growth, but the prospect of higher property taxes in this economy made it a tough sell to voters.
Cushing might want to look to the Mid-Del School District as an example of how to turn things around. In September, voters there gave 81 percent approval to a $90.5 million bond package about a year after rejecting a much larger proposal. After the defeat, district officials started over and used community input to reshape the plan.
Oklahoma communities have long shown they will support bond issues, even big ones, if the slate of projects is palatable. An example is Mustang, where voters this week approved, by 63 percent to 37 percent, two bond issues totaling close to $100 million.
Years behind schedule, a visionary project being built on donated land, with federal, state and private funds, needs a lot more money to reach completion. We're not describing the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City but the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden in Tulsa. Garden management now says it could take 10 to 20 years more to finish the project than the 10 years originally promised. As is the case with the Indian museum, funding is the main reason for the delays. The museum here will get an infusion of private money — but only if the state agrees to pony up more funds. One thing that differentiates the two projects is that they aren't caught up in the capital envy Tulsans sometimes exhibit over public projects in Oklahoma City. Tulsans want a state-funded cultural museum as a condition of more state funding for the Indian museum. Oklahoma City isn't insisting that a garden project here get the same attention from the state that the Tulsa project has received.
As we celebrate the return of the 45th Infantry Brigade from Afghanistan and Kuwait, the leader of the Oklahoma National Guard offers his thoughts on their work. “Because of the 45th's successes in southern and southeastern Afghanistan, the United States is another step closer to ensuring that terrorists will never again use that country as a staging base to attack us,” said Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, the adjutant general for Oklahoma. “The brigade was able to reduce the level of insurgent activities in multiple provinces and history will show they played a key role in setting the conditions that will give the Afghan people a chance to live better lives.” Oklahomans can be proud of and grateful for these men and women, who, as Deering put it, “answered the nation's call, many of them for their second, third, or even fourth deployment to ensure that their friends and neighbors back here at home remain safe and secure.”