When Oklahoma City residents approved the first MAPS sales tax in 1993, one of the most important parts of its implementation was the oversight and transparency built in its administration. The City continued to build on that trust when it partnered with Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) on two capital investment programs for the district: MAPS for Kids and the district’s 2007 bond program.
With the recent approval of the 2016 school bond package, Oklahoma City and the school district have the opportunity to continue their collaboration, but with a new arrangement that will streamline the process while still building on each group’s strengths.
When formally approved by both parties, the new School Bond Advisory Board will not be an official trust, but will approve an implementation plan and oversee the bond projects. The board will have seven members: a chairperson jointly appointed by the mayor and the OKCPS Board of Education chairperson, three members appointed by the Oklahoma City Council and three members appointed by the OKCPS Board.
The City will be able to use its ongoing capital improvement expertise by managing the advisory board’s operations, developing a project management plan and overseeing the implementation of projects, but OKCPS will approve all project budgets. Bond issue proceeds will pay for management of the bond projects, and the City Council will not be required to approve.
This arrangement, which was approved by the Oklahoma City Council on March 28 and as of press time awaits approval by the OKCPS School Board, will allow for efficient management of taxpayer funds and a quicker implementation process, giving our students the improvements they need much sooner. I applaud both parties for collaborating in a way that showcases their strengths.