OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – When voters head to the polls on November 8th, there are high stakes down the ballot, including $955 million that officials from Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) said could improve the district, across the board.
Voters will consider two proposals: one for approximately $936,000,000 to provide funds for the purpose of “acquiring, constructing, equipping, repairing and remodeling school buildings, acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment and acquiring and improving school sites”.
The district said another resolution for $19,000,000 will provide funds for the purpose of acquiring transportation equipment.
More information about the project can be found here.
OKCPS school officials said the bond issues allow school districts to pay for improvement projects, repairs and needed renovations over time instead of all at once. Specifically, the bond would pay for several large projects, including five new schools, a new multisport stadium and several renovations across the district.
“We think that the conditions that our kids going to school in matters,” said OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel before the district held its ninth community meeting at Northwest Classen High School to help provide information to voters, including a 30-minute presentation that featured an overview of bond projects from each respective feeder pattern.
“As we expect our kids to compete with kids from around the state, from around the country for college placement, scholarship opportunities, military appointments, jobs, we need to provide them a similar level of opportunity and so this [bond proposal] really represents that is possible,” he added.
At another meeting happening at MetroTech at the Springlake campus around the same time, that group was also engaged in a discussion about educational equity and how their communities could be impacted by the bonds.
“[The bond] is the largest that we’ve seen in this city [and] don’t want to get to the ballot box not knowing anything about it,” said Shawntay Alexander, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the OKC Black Alumni Coalition (OBAC).
Thursday’s meeting featured a bond presentation by John Pettis and a panel discussion featuring Gary Jones, Chris Brewster, Vernona Russell Dismuke, Melodie SilverCurl, Tracy McDaniel Sr. and Jesse Jackson.
View the entirety of their meeting here.
She said OBAC sponsored their community forum to make sure the communities they serve understood the bond basics, and the impact it could have on their feeder schools.
“By having an open forum, [we can have] a true dialog that engages the community, shares different perspectives [and] allows critical thought processes to occur. ”
“The Oklahoma City Black Alumni Coalition does not want to persuade or tell people how to vote [but] we definitely need it to be an equitable and fair bond issue,” she continued.
In the end, both groups told KFOR they’re focused on building better schools.
“If this does not pass, we’ll find another way. But this gives us our best hope right now,” said McDaniel.
“The community has to learn more and investigate…’How does this specifically serve my interests? How does it, how will they benefit my particular community?'” said Alexander.
“We definitely want to create space for those conversations to be had [and] we can’t talk about it enough,” she added.
Voters who live in the district can vote on the project in the November 8 election; view a sample ballot here.