DALLAS – Oklahoma voters on Tuesday rejected more new school debt than they approved, but found favor with Norman’s $42.6 million general obligation bond referendum.
Sixteen public school bond proposals totaling $34 million attained the 60% approval level needed to pass school debt in Oklahoma, while eight debt requests totaling more than $60 million were turned down.
More than 60% of voters in the Oklahoma City suburb of Norman favored the city’s plan to ease traffic congestions and reduce flooding with proceeds of $42.6 million of GO bonds.
The effort will include bridge and street widening projects and drainage improvements along several major streets.
The projects are expected to cost almost $90 million, but the city will rely on federal transportation grants to finance $46.4 million of the plan.
Norman’s GO debt is rated Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service.
Del City voters approved a five-year extension of a 1.5% sales tax. The sales tax estimated to generate $18.5 million over that period for a new fire station, library, and memorial for women war veterans.
Washington County, Okla., Independent School District No. 30 won approval for $12.7 million of GO bonds.
Voters in the district that serves Bartlesville rejected a $49.5 million bond package in February.
School officials said the proceeds will cover the district's most urgent needs over the next seven years.
The two-part referendum included $11.6 million for facility and technology projects and $1.1 million for new buses.
The district's $30 million of outstanding GO debt is rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor's and Aa2 by Moody's Investors Service.
Marshall County Independent School District No. 2’s $23 million proposal, the largest school bond request on Tuesday’s ballot, failed despite garnering the approval of 52% of voters.
The district, which serves the town of Madill in southern Oklahoma, wanted the money to a remodeling effort and construction of a new activity center and agriculture-technology campus. A $16 million request was turned down in February with 51% of voters in favor.
A request for $14.2 million by Ellis County Independent School District No. 2 was also turned down.
Proceeds would have been used to build 10 new classrooms and a band hall to serve as a safe room. Superintendent Terry Stevens said the school’s current gym in 50 years old, while some of the classrooms are 80 years old.
A $2.3 million GO bond referendum by Silo Independent School District in Bryan County was rejected with 514 votes in favor and 397 opposed. Proceeds would have been used to build, equip, and repair school facilities.
Despite the rejection, superintendent Bill Carruthers said the election was a success.
Almost twice as many people voted Tuesday than in the district’s last bond election in 2007.
“We came up a little short, but we’re excited because we gained a lot of ground,” he said.
“We’re proud of the people that supported us. In a lot of ways, we did win.”
Caruthers said the district would seek another bond election “as fast as we can.”