School bond blender

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I just had a look at the Tulsa Public Schools bond issue, which will be on the ballot this Tuesday.

There will be four propositions on the ballot, with names that suggest coherent groupings: building improvements ($116.4 million); library books, library materials, and building additions ($9.7 million); textbooks, classroom learning materials, and technology ($29.6 million); transportation ($6.5 million). That's a grand total of $162.2 million, or about $1,000 per student per year over the next four years. That money is over and above the operating budget of approximately $6,000 per year per regular student and $13,000 per year per special education student.

When you look at the details, they've made it very difficult for taxpayers to prioritize one kind of spending over another. Included in the building improvements package is money for artificial turf and other stadium improvements and money for renovating all middle school pools. The library and classroom packages combine one-time expenditures for capital improvements -- building additional library space -- with money for recurring operating expenses, like licenses for online research services.

Once upon a time, school bond issues were for building new school buildings or major renovations on existing buildings -- things with lifespans measured in decades. For the last 10 years or so, schools have been allowed to use bond money to fund textbooks, software, computers, and other equipment with a short lifespan, things that really belong to the operating budget.

It is important to maintain what we have and to expand facilities where it's needed, but it would be considerate of the school board to distinguish between absolute necessities and "nice to haves" when they come to us for funding.

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» "For the Children"? from Tulsa Topics

I exercised my privilege to vote today in the Tulsa Public Schools Bond election. At 2:30 P.M. the voter turnout had been light at my polling place. Only 85 voters had voted so far and I was number 86. The... Read More

5 Comments

Anon said:

If was before you wrote for UT, but they did a wonder article on school budgets a few months ago.

Here it is:
http://www.urbantulsa.com/article.asp?id=2856

"Public School Sticker Shock"
Which figured the per student cost of TPS was over $11,000, not the $6,000 normally provided. If they're off that far reporting special education students cost, it could approach $20,000 per student.

mad okie Author Profile Page said:

As a homeowner with no children, Im tired of paying for failure, Im voting NO

Anon said:

As I browsed the list of projects, it occurred to me that "elevators" for several of the schools would have been an ADA requirement and, I believe, also required compliance by 1995.

So, are they telling us they have not even yet provided manditory ADA requirements for these buildings yet? Really bad management, if so.

David S. Author Profile Page said:

If it makes $20,000 for special Ed. then they need to explain why I always heard those teachers needing and begging and I as a parent not seeing those request come through.

susan said:

West Wing had a live debate on t.v. Sunday hollywood style. Alan Alda did a superb job! Republican! Jimmy Smits did okay. Both brought out some very important issues that need to be discussed in our next presidential election. I don't know if this is true, but Alan Alda said that Washington, DC spends the highest per student at $15,000 per school year! That is a tragedy for the U.S. public school to "throw money" and they still aren't reading or testing well.
I don't see what the big deal is about teaching kids to read in elementary school. Why in the world do we need Title I? Why are kids in some of the north Tulsa schools so far behind? I have a friend that taught at one of the high schools, and she said the problem in math is the teachers just pass the kids even if they don't know the material so if you have someone in pre-algebra and should be making an F, they go ahead and pass them enough so they can move on to the next level. Teachers do this in other subjects as well because you can't have a old student in with younger children.
I taught all of my children to read before they ever got to elementary school. I also taught them math. My husband is great in science. We helped our school system understand different topics in science with hands-on science stuff a lot in elementary school. Homeschool kids learn faster and at a fraction of the cost of what is spent in the U.S. on public education. Do those parents get a tax break for not sending their kids to public schools?

I think the absolutely worst tragedy is how the
Oklahoma School of Science and Math in OkCity gets to hand pick the students. I would get Oklahoma TAXPAYERS are paying probably $20,000
a year and maybe more per student that go to the
Oklahoma School of Science and Math. The reason it is so expensive is Oklahoma Taxpayers also pay
(though most have no idea this is going on) for
their room and board their junior year and their
senior year. Their parents could go out of the country for 9 months and the state of Oklahoma would take care of these kids that are hand picked because they do well in science and math and have high ACT score and because they are well behaved kids. They also don't settle for regular teachers like public schools have. They
get professors in specialized fields to teach
science classes. When they graduate, many go on to universities because in these kids eyes, Oklahoma is NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM.

Throwing money at the school system? I guess we will see what voters decide.

I realize most parents don't take the time to help their kids read well, but it is simple to teach.
With the mental health issue Governor Brad Henry approved, I have to wonder if that will also put a higher price on the public school system providing more counselors/teachers/more special ed front-to-the-door bus service for some elementary kids that qualify in and I.E.P. for mentally needy children elementary - high school. Do you want all of that cost? VOTE!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 6, 2005 11:24 PM.

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