Although enrollment is up a few hundred students this year, the relatively stable enrollment at Norman schools over the past few years has allowed the district to catch its breath and propose some maintenance and technology issues as well as eliminating some temporary classrooms at elementary schools and updating athletic facilities.

That seems to be the case in the bond proposal put forth by the school board this year. It includes new classroom construction at McKinley and Jefferson and some athletic facilities but the bulk of the projects are maintenance, remodeling, roofs and parking lots. (A list of the projects is available at www.normantranscript.com under "schools").

The $16 million bond issue is on the ballot Tuesday. It is paired with the cell phone tax vote. Broken down, Proposition 1 totals $15,290,000. Proposition 2, for 10 school buses, a full-size lift bus and a mini-bus, totals $710,000. Both questions require a 60 percent passage by voters.

Property taxes will likely increase as the new five-year bonds come into the district's debt stream and older ones are paid off. The bond market and the district's valuation will determine the impact on individual property owners.

The board's decision to go to shorter bonds makes good sense for a district that is not having to build new schools to keep up with enrollment. Technology changes rapidly, carpet and paint wears out and furniture and playground equipment becomes outdated and often dangerous. The interest savings with shorter-length bonds over the past few years totals about $4 million.

Superintendent Joe Siano, in an interview last week, said the district's capital improvements program should be viewed as an ongoing process, not a single event. The projects slated for funding this year have gone through three levels of prioritization by school officials, a citizens' review group and the board before making it to the list.

A vote of support Tuesday will help maintain Norman school facilities and give students and teachers a better environment in which to learn. We urge a "yes" vote. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Additionally, voters can stop in the election board office at Main and Peters and vote in-person absentee Monday.

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