A handful of Oklahoma County voters overwhelmingly approved issuing bonds Tuesday to provide for school improvements beyond MAPS for Kids.
Each of the four propositions, which required a 60 percent majority to pass, were approved, garnering 77 percent or 78 percent favor.
Mayor Mick Cornett said with momentum happening throughout the city, and to further that progress, the bond issue "really needed to pass."
"I just couldn't imagine that voter confidence had increased so rapidly and so strongly," he said. "Back in 2001, the same pool of voters on that (MAPS for Kids) bond issue, we got 60.1 percent. And then, "¦ six years later, we got 79 percent."
Only 11 percent of registered voters turned out at the polls. However, Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary Doug Sanderson said the "low turnout" falls in "the range of what we see for these special elections," generally 8 percent to 15 percent.
The propositions passed call for issuing bonds in the amount of:
" $212 million for school facility upgrades, including new gyms and classrooms;
" $21 million for technology upgrades;
" $7.3 million for transportation equipment; and
" $8 million for safety and security equipment.
Oklahoma City Public Schools board members earlier had cited concern about getting their constituents to support the propositions, especially in the city's southern and northeastern areas.
Still, Cornett said voters' passage of the bonds doesn't indicate work is finished.
"What they are saying is we're on the right track," he said, citing clean audits and improved test scores and facilities. "We're on the right track, but in no way should we take this as a sign that we've completed our goals."
MORE GOOD NEWS
The bond passage was a second bit of good news for district officials, who announced recently that for the first time since enactment of No Child Left Behind, OKCPS students had met the act's requirements, continuing an increase in "proficient" scores in reading and math on state and end-of-instruction tests.
Cliff Hudson, chairman of the board of education, said in a press release that the improvement "doesn't mean we're at the finish line."
"We owe it to our children and ourselves to strive to make even greater progress in our public schools," he said. "Emily Jerman