Consolidation: Small School Administrators Speak Out

https://www.okteenchallenge.com/superthrift/tulsa

The room was rarely quiet but the tension was, at times, thick enough to cut with a knife. Several hundred parents, teachers, school administrators and concerned citizens sat in chairs or up in the bleachers of the Lone Star Event Center last Friday night and spoke or applauded with passion about the possibility of eventually losing their beloved schools to Senate Bills like No. 1382 and the 8 others similar bills that are being presented for approval.

Representing the panelists were school Superintendents from all across Green Country, including:

  • Kenny Guthrie, Cleora Public Schools
  • Rhett Bynum, Keystone Public Schools
  • John Cox, Peggs Public Schools
  • Tracie Haile, Lone Star Public Schools
  • Jeff Taylor, Pretty Water Public Schools
  • Kelly Husted, Allen Bowden Public Schools

Related: See what Superintendent Jeff Taylor says about this bill and it’s effects on Oklahoma.

We have story after story of success with our students. Right now, we have a choice of where to send our children. Let’s not get rid of that. With their charter school program, they (the larger schools) are trying to recreate what you (as a small school) already have.

—Kenny Guthrie, Superintendent of Cleora Public Schools

What savings? Where are the numbers? I have to know them. I want to see them. I want it to make sense to me. I want to know that 3 years from now, schools are in a better place. Right now, everything points to the exact opposite of that.

—Rhett Bynum, Superintendent of Keystone Public Schools

We focus on the child, not the numbers…our students are supposed to be getting ready to take their end-of-the-year tests and they’re worrying about whether they’re going to lose their school.

—John Cox, Superintendent of Peggs Public Schools

We have high schools trying to recruit our kids. They want to learn about our efficiencies in teaching. Let’s model our school after our K-8s, not shut them down.

—Jeff Taylor, Superintendent of Pretty Water Public Schools

Our students are high-achievers. These are students that go on to become valedictorians and salutatorians in the high schools they attend. We should be setting the standard for the rest of the state to follow, not the other way around.

—Tracie Haile, Superintendent of Lone Star Public Schools

The benefits of going to a K-8th are simply greater. We’re a work in progress, but it’sour work in progress. Senator Bingman has been overwhelmed with phone calls, and it’s only going to get worse for him. If we go down, we’re going down swinging.

—Kelly Husted, Superintendent of Allen Bowden Public Schools

During the Q & A session, we also heard from multiple people in the audience:

The state should place a focus on stabilizing the budget instead of micro-managing our schools. they want to set the scores high, but fund them low.

—Anonymous Audience Member

I’m a student who went to Gypsy, and am now attending high school in Bristow. To think that my Gypsy teachers were some form of lower-class educators is absurd.

—Anonymous Student

We don’t get into teaching for the money. We do it because we love what we do. The kids that come to our schools come because they know that they’re going to be okay.

—Ashley Watashe, teacher at Allen Bowden Public Schools

(Thanks to the teaching at a smaller school), my kids were taking college-level classes in 7th and 8th grade. A lot of families won’t send their children to a larger school; they may try a private school or try home-schooling. We cannot stop until these bills are dead.

—Anonymous Parent

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Micah Choquette

Micah Choquette

Micah is the owner/Editor-In-Chief of Sapulpa Times and passionate about telling the everyday stories in the town that we love. You can find him on Twitter at @meetmicah or email him at news@sapulpatimes.com.