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While elective offices for candidates dominate news coverage of Oklahoma elections concluding November 8, notable local ballot propositions will also face voter scrutiny. That includes two Oklahoma City public school propositions. File Graphic
 
 
Included on the November 8 election ballot -- for voters living within the boundaries of the Oklahoma City Public School system -- are two propositions authorizing indebtedness for new spending for the local public (government-administered) schools.
 
The bond package was approved unanimously by members of the school board in August, and placed on the general election ballot.
 
 
The school district's request for additional taxation to finance enhanced or new programs comes 21 years after the September 2001 approval of a combination of property taxes and sales taxes.
The "MAPs for Kids" referenda were the largest boost in public school financing approved by voters in state history, primarily focused on infra-structure improvements and new sites.
 
The MAPs for Kids proposals were the outcome of a lengthy period of community deliberation – known as Project KIDS – that involved virtually every element from leading institutions in the local educational, business, and cultural leadership.
 
After the late summer vote on the new bond measures, City school officials held a series of community meetings in October, the first at the Star Spencer Mid-High School.
 
The nearly $1 billion (combined) proposals have been touted by Paula Lewis, OKCPS board chairwoman.
As Fox 25 reported, Lewis has said, "We're going to see excitement through this district that hasn't existed in years. We're going to see more opportunities for a kid to find their passion, and their spark."
She believes "Now it's time to let our kids reap the benefits of Dr. McDaniel's leadership and the work of the board up until this point."
 
The Local Superintendent she referenced, Sean McDaniel, has said, "We're lagging right now. We don't offer opportunities like surrounding districts do."
 
In the community meetings, McDaniel and others focused on ways the bond package will impact each site in the district system. "It is a multi-level approach. This is one piece of it. And we do think that this gives our kids an advantage."
 
The district staff's summation of the impeact for each school is provided at "OKCPS Bond 2022" (https://sites.google.com/okcps.org/okcpsbond2022/school-projects?authuser=0)
 
Trent England, the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) projected the two proposals, if approved, will cost for owners of $250,000 homes (the district average) will be about $200 of increased property taxes each year.
 
 
A Fox25 news story said that property taxes would increase about $6 a month ($78 a year) for homes worth $100,000.
 
 
The Journal Record newspaper here in Oklahoma City reported in August that the local public school system now has "the lowest mill levy rate in the metro at 18, board officials noted. The $955 million bond would bring the district’s mill levy to 26, putting it more in line with other metro districts, which have an average mill levy of 27."
 
 
Chris Brewster, a widely-respected educator and Superintendent of Santa Fe South Schools (a public charter system) tweeted against the proposal, saying 23% of children living in the district -- including his students -- will not benefit.
 
 
The measures were criticized in emails coming from an Oklahoma City post office fox, with no indication who is financing the mailers.
A cartoon character called the "Tax Monster" says to recipients, "Thanks for the $540 million in 2001, the $248.3 million in 2007, the $180 million in 2016. Inflation is higher & I need just $955 Million of yoru property taxes to get by."
 
Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt has defended the two propositions in recent tweets.
The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation has sent mailers to district voters asking recipients to “Invest in Our Future, Vote Yes.” The mailers encourage voters to “Give Our Kids Skills For Work,” and to “Vote YES for OKC Public Schools.” The mailers assert voting yes “will equip OKCPS students with skills that will be honed at college or directly in the workforce.”
 
Because the proposals would encumber public debt, they will require 60 percent approval from the voters who vote on the measures.
 
Below is the exact language of the two propositions. Voters will be asked to cast their ballot as a "YES" or a "NO."
 
PROPOSITION NO. 1
 
Shall Independent School District Number 89 of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, incur an indebtedness by issuing its bonds, to be issued in one or more series, in the sum of Nine Hundred Thirty Six Million Dollars ($936,000,000) to be used with or without other funds to provide funds for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, equipping, repairing and remodeling school buildings, acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment and acquiring and improving school sites; or in the alternative to acquire all or a distinct portion of such property pursuant to a lease purchase arrangement; and levy and collect an annual tax, in addition to all other taxes, upon all the taxable property in such District sufficient to pay the interest on such bonds as it falls due and also to constitute a sinking fund for the payment of the principal thereof when due, said bonds to be competitively sold and bear interest at the lowest rate not to exceed the rate of ten percent (10%) per year, payable semiannually and to become due serially within five (5) years from their date?
 
PROPOSITION NO. 2
 
Shall Independent School District Number 89 of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, incur an indebtedness by issuing its bonds, to be issued in one or more series, in the sum of Nineteen Million Dollars ($19,000,000) to be used with or without other funds to provide funds for the purpose of acquiring transportation equipment; or in the alternative to acquire all or a distinct portion of such property pursuant to a lease purchase arrangement, and levy and collect an annual tax, in addition to all other taxes, upon all the taxable property in such District sufficient to pay the interest on such bonds as it falls due and also to constitute a sinking fund for the payment of the principal thereof when due, said bonds to be competitively sold and bear interest at the lowest rate not to exceed the rate of ten percent (10%) per year, payable semiannually and to become due serially within five (5) years from their date?

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