The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved a resolution scheduling a June 8th election for voters to decide on a five-year, $414 million bond proposal.
"Bonds have become a critical source for funding the day to day maintenance and operation to help our district create great teaching and learning experiences for every student," Board President Stacey Woolley said in a statement. "Bonds provide safe and state-of-the-art classrooms, libraries, and stadiums, high-quality classroom technology, and importantly this year, support investments in building ventilation and other COVID-19 safety enhancements. Bond funds also support the purchase of buses; a wide range of classroom materials such as textbooks, microscopes, and musical instruments; and computers and networking – which has proved critical to support our students and families in our shifts to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
At Monday's meeting, Interim Vice President Suzanne Schreiber said the bond's approval would not raise taxes.
"There's no increase in tax to raise these bond funds, and I want to make sure the public understands that," Schreiber said, a claim supported at the meeting by advisor Rick Smith of Municipal Finance Services.
"Whenever you see the words 'levying and collecting an annual tax,' people get, you know, kind of nervous," Schreiber said.
LeeAnne Power Jimenez, vice president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, backed the bond during public comment, though she noted she would prefer a funding structure that did not require it.
"Some would say that it is the duty of the state to fund education. I would agree with that," she said. "Having said that, I have lived this life for 30 years and have yet to see a year when the state legislature fully funded public education adequately. If we wait until they do the job we elected them to do, our students will suffer for lack of having curriculum, furniture, safe buildings in which to engage in learning, and transportation to and from those buildings."
The bond is broken down into four segments: Proposition 1: Safe Learning Environments ($166.8 million); Proposition 2: Student and Classroom Technologies (90.7 million); Proposition 3: Student Transportation ($17.3 million); and Proposition 4: Quality Learning Materials and Programs ($139.3 million).
Under state law, the bond requires a "super majority" of 60% of voters approve of it for it to pass.