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Union seeks approval of $128.6 million, five-year series bond issue on Tuesday, February 13
Originally posted January 2, 2018
Union Public Schools is asking patrons to consider approval of a $128.6-million, five-year series bond issue when they go to the polls on Tuesday, February 13. Among the projects included is the completion of Ellen Ochoa Elementary School; improvements to athletics and a Fine Arts addition at Union High School, including upgrades and structural renovations to the district’s 40-year-old Tuttle Stadium; and continued expansion of Union’s districtwide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative. Also planned is the initial rollout of the “1-to-1” initiative, providing every student with 24/7 access to a laptop computer (beginning in grades 9-12), as well as safety improvements related to bus transportation.
The ballot would contain two propositions, with one focused on the purchase of transportation vehicles. Passage of both questions will not increase taxes above traditional levels and requires a supermajority – at least 60 percent of the vote. See our special bond section.
“Multi-year bonds have become a standard in Oklahoma, as they provide for greater efficiency in planning larger capital projects,’ Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler said. “A single campaign spanning five years helps our district save money by not having an election every year. While this is a change from the familiarity of an annual bond election, this five-year general obligation bond will allow Union to be more efficient in the planning, sequencing, and building of these projects. It’s the smart thing to do.”
Completing the construction of the recently opened Ellen Ochoa Elementary will allow Union to double the number of students it serves there to more than 1,000, he said. An estimated $6.6 million in funding is needed to finish this flagship community school.
Other key projects in the proposal include a significant expansion and renovation of the district’s Fine Arts, Athletics, and classroom and stadium facilities.
“Student participation in Union’s extracurricular activities has grown to 90 percent, which has stressed our building capacity at the High School to meet the demand,” Hartzler said. “Aging facilities like Union’s Tuttle Stadium have presented us with a unique opportunity to add a Fine Arts wing to better serve band students – more than 1,100 members strong – while modernizing restrooms and concession areas, and improving accessibility to meet federal ADA requirements. Plans call for an expansion of the weight room and locker facilities for athletics, as well as new space for wrestling, volleyball, spirit, and golf. Artificial turf and other upgrades are planned for baseball and softball, as well as a renovation of the district’s Performing Arts Center.”
If approved, the bond issue would enable Union to continue investing in STEM programs including the renovation of a building near the High School for laboratory experiments, as well as providing every students in ninth grade and above with a laptop or wireless device as part of Union’s “1-to-1” initiative.
Other improvements would include roofing and HVAC replacements throughout the district, as well as interior and exterior repairs, flooring, playground upgrades, replacement of aging school buses and the purchase of GPS technology to improve safety of students riding buses.
“The Union School Board and administration take their role as good financial stewards very seriously,” Hartzler said, noting that Union was even recognized last year by the New York Times as being a national model on how to invest in “a culture of high expectations, recruit top-flight professionals and develop ties between schools and the community.”
Hartzler said, “I appreciate being part of a community that expects the very best for its students. Just as our teachers and staff believe in the potential of our students, we believe in Union Public Schools. This has been demonstrated in voters’ consistent support of our school bond issues. Please remember to vote on Tuesday, February 13!”
Voter Registration Deadline
Union patrons who are not yet registered must mail a completed registration form to the Tulsa County Election Board, postmarked no later than Friday, January 19, to vote in Union’s bond election. The forms are available at any Union school, the Union Education Service Center, and the Tulsa County Election Board. Absentee ballots must be requested by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7. Go to www.tulsacounty.org/elections to download the absentee ballot request, which may be faxed or mailed back. Completed and notarized absentee ballots must be mailed back and received by the Election Board by 7 p.m. the day of the election, February 13. For more information, call the Tulsa County Election Board at 918-596-5787 or 918-596-5780.