TPS Targeting March for Vote on New Five-Year Bond Package

Sep 15, 2020

Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

District officials hope to have a new, five-year bond package to the Tulsa Public Schools Board for review in November, putting it on schedule for a March 2 ballot.

A citizen committee is currently at work on the bond package, and early indications are it will include four proposals: one for school buildings, one for student technology, one for teaching and learning materials, and one for transportation.

The transportation proposal won’t be just for buses. It will also include smaller vehicles that don’t require a commercial drivers license.

"We have a lot of career partner programs. We have a lot of groups like our fine arts people and our Indian ed people who say, 'We want to be able to take small groups of students and transport them, too,'" said TPS Senior Bond Project Manager Ellen Duecker.

TPS Board member Jerry Griffin said he thinks the process is moving too quickly and there should be a new long-term plan for the district in place first.

"And if we don’t plan first before we try and ask for a bond passage, I would predict right now this bond will not pass. You’ve got to plan first. That’s fundamental," Griffin said.

Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said the timeline is meant to give the board flexibility while helping the district avoid a gap in bond funding. Gist said that funding pays for critical things people may not think of, like districtwide software licenses.

"Having a gap means, essentially, that a huge part of the work of the district stop and we would not be able to function, to be frank. These are dollars that we rely upon," Gist said.

The district currently receives $80 million to $85 million a year in bond funding.

Bond amounts are not earmarked for specific purchases ahead of time.