school bond elections
Stillwater Public Schools is one of 46 school districts where voters have passed a bond proposal in January and February of 2023. (Screenshot)

Out of 53 Oklahoma public school district bond proposals that appeared on Jan. 10 and Feb. 14 ballots this year, just seven have failed to receive the 60 percent support threshold required for approval.

On Tuesday, Norman Public Schools passed two bond proposals totaling nearly $350 million, with about 68 percent support for Proposition 1 and 73 percent support for Proposition 2. They include facility improvements to most school sites, as well as a new standalone aviation center at Max Westheimer Airport to develop a budding aviation program.

School districts in the state present bond issues on election ballots for voter approval. Issuing bonds, which are bought by private investors, can provide districts up-front funding for school site improvements, technology purchases and transportation upgrades.

Districts pay off their bonds over time with local property tax revenues. State law requires that bond issues receive at least 60 percent of the vote in order to be approved, and bond proceeds cannot be used for things like teacher salaries and programmatic funding.

Large districts see proposals pass Tuesday

Bartlesville, Jenks, Mustang, Stillwater and Tulsa Union are among the other districts that succeeded in passing bond proposals Tuesday.

In Bartlesville, two proposals totaling $38 million passed with about 79 percent of the vote each. The funds will go to expansions of Wayside and Ranch Heights elementary schools, new technology in classrooms, infrastructure services, and programs for students.

In Jenks, 82 percent of voters approved two proposals worth $17.2 million. Notable projects include new turf and a new video board at Jenks’ Allan Trimble Stadium, classroom renovations in the high school’s freshman academy, district-wide technology, facilities repairs and safety improvements.

Also in the Tulsa area, voters in Union Public Schools’ boundaries approved two bond proposals with 78 and 79 percent of the vote. With a total cost of $152 million, notable projects include a new sixth- and seventh-grade center, upgrades to athletics and fine arts centers, new technology, and new safety improvements.

Mustang voters approved one bond proposition with 69.89 percent of the vote and a second with 72 percent of the vote. With a total cost of $180.9 million, Mustang Public Schools students will see a new elementary school, a high school expansion, a “safety corridor” at Mustang Elementary School, technology updates, and facility repairs as a result of the two proposals’ passage.

Stillwater Public Schools’ two bond proposals total $195 million. The first passed with 78 percent of the vote and the second passed with 80 percent of the vote. The key project in the proposal is a new building for Stillwater High School. Additional projects in the bond include expansions and improvements of athletic facilities, new technology and facilities improvements.

7 districts’ bond proposals have failed in 2023

So far in 2023, seven school districts have seen their bond proposals fail.

Two of the bond proposals that did not pass were on ballots Jan. 10. Those proposals were in Cleveland and Fox in Pawnee and Carter counties, respectively. While a 56.49 percent majority of voters in Cleveland voted for the $12.8 million bond proposal, it did not reach the 60 percent threshold required for passage. If it had passed, the rural school district northwest of Tulsa would have seen a major high school renovation, the relocation of the districts’ football field to its school campus, and a new intermediate school kitchen.

Fox Public Schools is in southern Oklahoma, just northwest of Ardmore. A 57.65 percent majority of voters cast their ballots against the proposal. Its proposed projects included a new elementary school, a safe room, a new cafeteria, a new library and 10 new classrooms.

Five other districts saw bond proposals fail Tuesday: Catoosa, Coyle, Granite, Milburn and Riverside.

Catoosa‘s bond proposal totaled $9 million. If it had passed, it would have completed a new elementary school that started construction as a result of a previous bond that did pass. The Tulsa suburb’s Tuesday proposal fell just shy, receiving 58.95 percent support.

Coyle‘s school bond proposal also failed Tuesday, with 55.69 percent of voters casting ballots for it. With a cost of $24 million, its projects included a new elementary school building, a new multi-purpose building and transportation updates.

In Granite Public Schools, voters overwhelmingly voted against the $3.79 million bond proposal. The funds would have gone toward a new classroom building in the southwest Oklahoma school district. Only 21.75 percent of total votes — 75 people — were in support.

Milburn Public Schools’ bond election garnered 57.04 percent of the vote. The $850,000 proposal would have created a new early childhood center in the southeast Oklahoma district.

Riverside Public School is a K-8th grade school in El Reno. Its $4 million bond would have funded four new classrooms, storm shelters and other renovations to the school. The proposal received only 30.5 percent support.

Sometimes when bond proposals fail, district leaders eliminate or change some projects and present voters with another package in subsequent elections.

Also on Jan. 10, Osage Public School voters defeated a proposition to be annexed into Pryor Public Schools. On the same date, Terral Public School voters in Jefferson County approved a proposition to be annexed into Ryan Public Schools.

Other districts see proposals approved

The 46 districts with bond proposals that have passed this year are:

  • Adair Public Schools
  • Afton Public Schools
  • Arnett Public Schools
  • Bartlesville Public Schools
  • Blair Public Schools
  • Bray-Doyle Public Schools
  • Chandler Public Schools
  • Comanche Public Schools
  • Coweta Public Schools
  • Crowder Public Schools
  • Crutcho Public Schools
  • Elk City Public Schools
  • Fairview Public Schools
  • Fort Gibson Public Schools
  • Garber Public Schools
  • Gracemont Public Schools
  • Grandfield Public Schools
  • Greenville Public Schools
  • Holdenville Public Schools
  • Holly Creek Public Schools
  • Inola Public Schools
  • Jenks Public Schools
  • Kremlin Hillsdale Public Schools
  • Latta Public Schools
  • LeFlore Public Schools
  • Lukfata Public Schools
  • Millwood Public Schools
  • Monroe Public Schools
  • Mustang Public Schools
  • Norman Public Schools
  • Olive Public Schools
  • Osage Hills Public Schools
  • Paoli Public Schools
  • Sequoyah Public Schools
  • Skiatook Public Schools
  • Snyder Public Schools
  • Stillwater Public Schools
  • Tyrone Public Schools
  • Union Public Schools
  • Velma-Alma Public Schools
  • Verden Public Schools
  • Vici Public Schools
  • Wayne Public Schools
  • Waynoka Public Schools
  • Webbers Falls Public Schools
  • Woodland Public Schools