Correction: We mistakenly said that Chouteau elmentary in Tulsa had closed. The school simply relocated to the former Madison building. The story has been corrected.
In 2011, Tulsa Public Schools approved a proposal to consolidate a number of it’s schools.
The final plan would close 14 schools, re-open two, eliminate approximately 6,000 empty seats and shave about $5 million from the budget.
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent proposed the plan—which was ultimately accepted—because be believed that “the district had become spread too thin to be effective.”
Less than one percent
The published budget [PDF] for 2011-2012 was $519,204,759. The consolidation effort saved TPS less than one percent of it’s annual budget.
Parents in Tulsa Public Schools had the same sorts of questions that others are asking now in the face of the Senate Bills on consolidation being proposed:
“I thought, ‘What are they thinking?’ With our test scores and the overall excellence of this school, in my mind, I just could not comprehend the reasoning there,” said Christy Dotson, former student of Chouteau elementary, who had three children there. The Chouteau building closed, but the staff and students migrated to the former Madison school building and renamed it Chouteau.
A teacher for the now-closed Phillips Elementary was concerned about the level of education her students might receive at a different school. “Can you guarantee my kids will have the same opportunities that they have now at Phillips at whatever school you’re putting them at?” She said. Phillips Elementary has been replaced with a magnet school, Henry Zarrow International School.
Not so lucky
Other elementary schools have not been so lucky. Jane Addams Elementary, a school located in Oakhurst, was part of the consolidation efforts. It remains at a surplus status, and is unsold.
In a recent Town Hall-style meeting at Lone Star Event Center, Superintendent Kenny Guthrie touched on this subject, saying that Tulsa’s magnet and charter school programs were simply trying to replicate what K-8 dependent schools are already doing.
“With their charter school program, they (the larger schools) are trying to recreate what you (as a small school) already have,” he said.
Kenny Guthrie is Superintendent for Cleora Public Schools, one of the K-8 dependent school districts that could close if SB1382 passes.
Sapulpa’s rural school districts would be affected as well, including Allen Bowden, Lone Star and Pretty Water Public Schools.
Earlier this week, House Bill 2824 was voted down. Several others however, still stand.
Senator John Ford, who acts chairman of the Senate Education Committee, says he won’t hear any bills this session dealing with the topic of consolidation, including one he authored himself.
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (the author of SB1382) plans to transfer his consolidation bill from Ford’s committee to the Senate Rules Committee in an effort to keep the issue alive.