On June 8, 2021, Tulsans will vote on the 2021 Bond for Tulsa Public Schools, a $414 million investment in Tulsa children, of which $25 million will improve student athletics and wellness programming at every school.
The athletics improvements in the proposed bond package include maintenance of practice fields, stadium repairs, pool refreshes, and turf replacements that are necessary to maintain safe facilities for our student athletes. The proposed 2021 bond will allow every school to purchase equipment to support their growing programs.
If passed, the 2021 Bond for Tulsa Public Schools will also fund the construction of three new athletic facilities that will create exciting new opportunities for students across the district, as well as the community as a whole.
Tulsa Public Schools is partnering with the YMCA to provide an expanded fitness center with a basketball court at East Central High School. The fitness center will be added on to the new arena, which is scheduled to be completed in May 2022. The proposed 2021 bond would fund this addition, which will be available to students during the day and will open to the public during the evening and weekend hours.
“It's going to be a great partnership,” said Gil Cloud, Executive Director of Athletics at Tulsa Public Schools. “It'll help the YMCA begin to create a footprint in East Tulsa and what we've planned is seven thousand square feet of fitness, strength, and conditioning area.”
The YMCA will be providing the equipment for the fitness center and the personnel to run it. Gil hopes the district can utilize the space for sports medicine as well, adding rehabilitation to the list of potential benefits.
“There is a growing body of evidence indicating that physical activity and fitness can benefit both in health and academic performance for children. It also provides positive effects of physical activities on the developing brain,” said Kyle Wilkes, Vice President of Mission Advancement at the YMCA of Greater Tulsa. “Teachers and support professionals can also benefit from physical activity. Having this center attached to the school will allow easy access and reduced challenges around fitting exercise in their day.”
Kyle said thirty minutes of exercise a day can improve happiness levels and provide stress relief, a sense of fulfillment, an energy boost, and better sleep.
The proposed 2021 bond will also provide Tulsa Public Schools the opportunity to partner with the Tulsa Parks Department to add an all-weather turf softball diamond at Will Rogers College Middle and High School. This lit field will be available for both Rogers students and other student athletes across the district. The turf will allow for games to be played that would otherwise be rained out. The new field will be installed to the west of the stadium and will include concessions and restrooms. When district teams aren’t playing, the complex will be available for the community to use.
“I think the more we can partner with the community, the better,” said Gil. “The Rogers football stadium has got to be good for that community because they have people coming in and spending money at restaurants around 11th Street. It livens the community and makes it exciting.”
The third facility included in the athletics and wellness portion of the proposed bond package is an indoor soccer field and practice gym at Hale High School.
“I think this is the crown of this bond for the athletics department. It’s really going to be something,” said Gil. “It will be on the Hale campus but it's a district facility. If it's raining outside and Memorial needs to practice, they can schedule it and they can be there.”
When it isn’t being used by students in the district, community soccer teams will be able to rent out the space. In addition to the field and basketball court, the facility will include much-needed locker rooms.
“Currently our basketball players have a locker room that was built in 1959. It has no lockers. It has no access to restrooms, and our visiting teams are housed in an old band room,” said Principal Sheila Riley.
The facility will also include a student union space for Hale students to safely gather for academic and social activities. It will connect to the existing building so the school can also hold community events there.
“It’s going to be a tremendous facility,” said Gil.
Investing in much-needed facilities like these makes students feel valued, and investing in athletics boosts their engagement.
“It keeps them coming to school,” said Gil. “The National Federation of State High School Associations calls athletics the other half of education. You have the academic portion and then you have this activities portion. I think they are critical to curriculum enhancement and to academic achievement of students: ‘There's a reason why I have to stay eligible. There's a reason why I have to come to school.’”
You can find more information and details on each proposition at www.tulsaschools.org/2021bond. The proposed bond package is designed to keep property taxes level.