DALLAS - Tulsa Public Schools plans to ask voters for $415 million of bond authority in 2015, one of the largest proposals in the state's history.
After approval by the Tulsa School Board in December, the issue of so-called "Smart Start" bonds will go before voters in March.
Proceeds of the bonds would provide $239.74 million for buildings and repairs, $19.8 million for libraries, $17.025 million for transportation, and $138.435 million for books and computers. Some of the projects include the addition of classrooms to 14 schools.
Renovations are planned at another 21 schools. New athletic field houses would be built at two schools and new practice gyms would be built for two schools. Other projects include roof replacements, new concession stands, bleacher and locker rooms, resurfacing of tracks and HVAC upgrades.
One elementary will get a new cafeteria, while others will get new elevators and libraries. Twenty new school buses would be purchased as well.
The district has a sinking fund rate of 27.79 mills, which is used for the retirement of existing bonds. That amount is lower than most of the adjacent districts in the Tulsa area, even though TPS has a larger bonding capacity given its size. If the new bonds are approved, they would replace bonds being retired so as not to increase ad valorem taxes for property owners, officials explained.
A November poll showed strong support for the bond proposal, ranging from 52.9% for a school serving downtown Tulsa to 76.5% for replacement of portable classrooms.
"We greatly appreciate the input of Tulsa citizens, as they have clearly embraced many of the ideas under consideration for the 2015 bond initiative," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent.
The district earned a positive outlook on its AA rating from Standard & Poor's in a Dec. 1 report. That came in advance of a $46 million issue scheduled to close this month.
"The district's financial performance has improved significantly, in our view, following implementation of a $16 million expenditures reduction plan in fiscal 2011," S&P analyst Sarah Smaardyk noted. "The district has also experienced positive budget variance due to teaching position vacancies and tight expenditure controls."
Moody's Investors Service applied a stable outlook to its Aa2 rating on the issue.
Known officially as Tulsa County Independent School District No. 1, the district is the state's second-largest with 78 campuses and an enrollment of 40,000 students.