Of school bonds and my work with the Long Range Planning Committee

A Union constituent asked some questions elsewhere about my involvement with school bond matters so I thought I’d elaborate here for the benefit of others.

I live in the Broken Arrow Public Schools (BAPS) district. BAPS typically puts bond issues forward once every few years, the most recent one totaling $370 million in 2015. (see http://www.baschools.org/2015bond for more on the 2015 BAPS bond issue). I voted for that school bond issue, and it passed.

Beginning in the Fall of 2015, I served on the BAPS Long Range Planning Committee. During 2016 the Committee was particularly active, working with the Superintendent, COO, CFO, Board, and teacher representatives on early childhood center, elementary, and middle school re-districting. This was a lengthy process designed to rebalance school populations, especially as the new BAPS elementary (ultimately named “Timber Ridge Elementary”) came online. This rebalancing lessened the strain on previously overcrowded schools and allowed for population growth for a few school years, while minimizing disruptions to families near boundaries. We discussed and reconciled multiple proposals from the committee working groups and then made a proposal to the Board of Education. The new boundaries went into effect for the current 2017-2018 school year.

We also provided input on new instructional initiatives and were briefed by the COO and CFO on how 2015 bond monies were being used, with an opportunity to give some input on the various phases (including construction of Timber Ridge, the Kirkland Soccer Fields, and plans for the next two elementary schools still to be constructed).

I’ve learned a lot about working with school administration and Boards of Education while serving on the committee. There were also discussions about the different funding sources allocated to and raised by Oklahoma public schools, including state funding (the subject of so much controversy this year). I expect these experiences to serve me well in legislative debates about funding core services including education.

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