DALLAS — Voters in the Tulsa County Independent School District No. 1 approved a $354 million general obligation bond package on Tuesday, the largest bond package ever sought by the district or any other school district in Oklahoma.
More than 25,500 Tulsans went to the polls and approved the four-part package by a 72% margin. School bonds in Oklahoma must receive the support of 60% of voters to pass.
The largest of the four bond proposals was $261.4 million for new and improved facilities, which garnered 74.6% approval. Other measures included $61.3 million for textbooks, music and art equipment, and classroom technology, $19.6 million for six new libraries and materials, and $11.7 million for 130 new buses.
The district’s GOs have underlying ratings of Aa2 from Moody’s Investors Service and AA from Standard & Poor’s. With 42,000 students, the school district is the largest in Oklahoma.
District superintendent Keith Ballard said Wednesday he was pleased by the high turnout and the large majority of voters in favor of the bond proposals.
“This is a good morning,” he said. “We worked hard to inform the voters. We are pleased and surprised with the overwhelming majority with which it passed.”
District officials said the bonds would be sold on a schedule that would avoid an increase in the current property tax rate of 23 mills. Tulsa County ISD No. 1 has about $170 million of outstanding debt.
The bond proceeds will continue a 20-year capital improvement program that began in 1996. The district, which serves most of the city of Tulsa, did not pass a bond issue between 1969 and 1993.
Since the district adopted the 20-year capital program, which is updated annually, voters have approved $94.5 million of GOs in 1996, $109 million in 1999, $140.7 million in 2001, and $162.2 million in 2005.
The facilities bond will fund a total renovation of one high school and upgrades at 22 other schools. Other bond projects include a new early childhood education center and six new classrooms.
Elsewhere across the state, voters approved $72.6 million of new school bonds and rejected requests for $7.3 million of school bonds.
The Comanche County Independent School District, which serves the town of Cache, received authorization for $29 million of GOs to finance construction of a new fifth- and sixth-grade center and expansion of the district’s middle school. Voters also approved $1 million of bonds for transportation.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett won re-election to a third term with 58.7% of the vote.