Voters will decide whether or not to pass the city's largest ever school bond proposal on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
The $126-million bond initiative would provide money for Norman Public Schools to improve buildings, technology, athletics and transportation. The school district has said there would not be a tax increase if the bond measure passes.
Two major changes that would be funded by the bond measure would be a one-to-one technology initiative and the creating of "university centers" at both of Norman's high schools.
The university centers would be on-site locations offering high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to take college-level courses if they are academically ready for that kind of work. It would work in a similar way the concurrent enrollment program works, but instead of students going to the University of Oklahoma, professors would come to the high school campuses to teach.
Gregg Garn is the Dean for OU's Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education and said a program like this offered specific advantages for the students. They could take the college-level courses while still immersing and participating in high school activities.
"What our Oklahoma economy needs, increasingly it's more college graduates," explained Garn. "Something on the order of over a $1 million in salary is the difference between a college graduate and a non-college graduate over your career."
One of the goals of the university centers at Norman High School and Norman North High School would be to reach student who might not consider college as an option.
"I think that's a pretty powerful message that the district is saying," said Garn. "We're going to bring out that conversation for every child in the district."
The programs would essentially engrain the idea of achieving a college degree as early as middle school.
"It helps kids write a future story so we know that every kid that walks into Norman high school, every kid that walks into Norman North, even before they get there are thinking college," explained Norman High School Principal Scott Beck.
The district also plans an aggressive push for 21st century technology in every student's hands. In practice, each student in the district would have access to a laptop or tablet (to be determined at a later date) to continue teaching student after the school day ends.
"There is a technology aspect to the bond that provides one-to-one technology and those type of things and that's where the world is moving and we need to make sure that our kids are prepared for that," said Bryan Young, Principal of Norman North High School.
The bond vote is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 11 and requires 60% of the vote to pass. It represents Norman Public School's bonding capacity for the next five years and all projects would have to be completed within three years.