Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

School Officials Worry Millages Face Defeat

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

School Officials Worry Millages Face Defeat

Article excerpt

Gov. Frank Keating isn't taking a gamble by setting a vote on legalizing casinos on the same ballot with school millage issues, aides insist.

But school officials continue to worry about the Feb. 10 vote on the casino question and the possibility that it will lead to defeat of millage proposals.

"If there is a strong, emotional `no' vote on casino gambling, that could easily spill over and negatively impact the passage of the millage," says Bob Moneyham, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Board Association. Moneyham recalled that the gambling petition was initially promoted as a way to get more money for schools, cities and prisons. He said he is afraid the public will perceive that the casino plan and school millage are connected and vote against both proposals. "I think it will prove very confusing," he said. "It's extremely important for the public to differentiate between the two, because school districts can survive without casino gambling, but they can't survive without the millage," Moneyham said. Keating's action surprised many officials. "If schools conduct this annual school election the way they have conducted most school elections, I predict a lot of the millages will fail," state Election Board Secretary Lance Ward said. "This demands that they try to get the message out to all of their patrons and not just the ones who normally vote in school elections." School elections normally have not been well publicized and receive notoriously low turnouts. Millage and bond issue proposals receive a heavy "yes" vote from people involved in the schools -- teachers, employees, PTA members, etc., Ward said. Casino gambling, he said, "is the type of issue that will draw voters to the polls all by itself. My guess is the turnout for this election could be three to five times as many voters as normally would participate in an election on that day. "From what I read, the opposition intends to get its votes out. …

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