School Board Announces $40 Million Error

Monday, December 15th 2008, 6:47 pm
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- School Board Chairman Kirk Humphreys and Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer announced Monday the discovery of a $40 million shortfall within the 2007 bond issue.

"I been hoping that somebody would tell me I was wrong," Springer said. "I know what I found was correct."

The issue, which was passed last year by the state, called for a five year plan to make renovations to the school district.

The bond issue was comprised of four propositions, including renovations to gymnasiums, technology, transportation and the district's security on school campuses.

"As a district we know errors become problems only if we don't properly correct them; we are turning this district into a proactive rather than reactive district," Springer said. "We want our students, employees and residents to know we are mindful of the finances and will always tell the truth and keep them informed whether it's good news or bad news."

Springer announced the five year plan would take much longer to pay off without raising property taxes or extending completion of scheduled projects.

"Every decision in MAPS for Kids has required the agreement of the school board, city council and the MAPS Trust," Springer said. "Unfortunately, the approved 2007 bond issue was put together without the oversight of the MAPS Trust. However, no district monies have been misspent."

Springer recommended that all future bond issues be approved by both the school board and the MAPS Trust before being voted on by Oklahomans. He also recommended all expenditures be approved by both the MAPS Trust and the School Board.

Superintendent Springer recommends moving forward with bonds already sold for technology, transportation, security and some construction projects.

According to Springer, bond elections should be held every few years, beginning in fall of 2009.

District Staff will continue to develop a long-term plan for continuing renovation projects to the district.

"Transportation and technology is important, but classrooms and gyms, classrooms in the south side are what is important for me," Board member David Castillo said.

The remaining bonds for construction and capital improvements could be scrapped.

"With this plan we will have more dollars for finished work and the length of construction will be shorter," Springer explained. "This approach makes sense and our suburban neighbors use this as standard operating procedures."