School finance is about the most complicated thing this state does. I don’t know if it’s this difficult in other states, but trying to figure out how schools are funded and what kinds of funds can pay for what kinds of things is like trying to learn chess- at least for me. I won’t pretend that I can explain all there is to know about school finance, but I would like to take a moment to share some facts about bond issues.
When I was 18 years old, Putnam City Schools called for a bond election, and because I was a nerd, I wrote an essay for our Think Ink writing contest about why people should support public education. I distinctly recall making a speech to a group of citizens at the Warr Acres Community Center, in case you didn’t think the essay contest proved my nerd street cred.
Bond issues are a funding mechanism that allows schools to issue bonds that are purchased by banks, therefore giving the district a large and quick infusion of cash for projects. The Oklahoma State Constitution and Oklahoma statutes have very rigid guidelines for what bond monies can be used. These include the fact that though we may need it desperately, bond monies may not be used to pay for teacher salaries.
This may explain why people see construction equipment at our schools and wonder how we have the money for that and not have money to increase our teaching staff or their salaries. The improvements being done on our buildings now are the result of another bond election that passed in 2014. Though these funds do allow the district to have more money for certain things, they do not increase a family’s property taxes.
Since the Putnam City Schools Foundation works on behalf of the district, we strongly encourage you to research the new bond issue on our district’s website. Learn all you want to know about the need for these funds, what they will do, where you can vote, and how important that vote is to the continued success of this district.
The election is October 10th. I’ll be sure to remind you about that date in a future post!