TPS Project Schoolhouse 2 changes in the works
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
2/01/12 at 8:53 AM
Tulsa Public Schools officials are pursuing a second, albeit less dramatic, round of facility shuffling as part of the Project Schoolhouse efficiency initiative.
The plan is set to go to the school board on Monday, with a vote on the matter scheduled for Feb. 21.
Deputy Superintendent Millard House told parents at a Tuesday evening forum at Mayo Demonstration Academy that the district has saved more than $2.7 million during the year after shuttering 13 school buildings. However, he said, more changes are needed.
House said an annual review of efficiency and facility usage "is very important, especially in these unpredictable legislative times, in reference to finances."
"If we hadn't gone through Project Schoolhouse, imagine where we would be right now. We would be in a situation where we would be laying off personnel," he said.
The Project Schoolhouse II proposal was unveiled at a forum where the topic was the possibility of moving Mayo, which is at 2525 S. 101st East Ave., to the vacant Wilson Middle School facility, 1127 S. Columbia Ave., to allow for expansion.
House said the program is so popular that more than 60 students were placed on a waiting list for the current school year and many students' families are split up because sibling preference cannot be considered in admissions.
He said the school could grow from its current 250 students to 450 or even 500, as long as the growth is gradual and carefully done.
Officials have pledged a collaborative planning process for the facility's preparation and program growth, developed in concert with faculty members and parents, with the help of an outside consultant.
"I see this school in this location becoming a real flagship school in this district," said school board member Anna America. "A couple of years down the road, I see this school being the school everyone in town is trying to get into."
City Councilor Blake Ewing said he recently met with Superintendent Keith Ballard about Wilson because it is located in his district and he supports the idea of its housing Mayo.
"I really respect the leadership Tulsa Public Schools has in place right now," Ewing said. "They have gone out of their way to say, 'These are your kids. This is the life of your child. Tell us what you like.' "
He added that he thinks it is critical to Tulsa's success and growth that more desirable school options emerge.
"There is no bigger impact on how a community grows than what happens with the schools," he said. "People are moving around our community based largely on schools.
"Tulsa Public has some really great carrots to dangle in front of parents. What we've seen is young families will move into Midtown and live there until their kids are 5 and then move to Bixby. It has really affected our city."
A few parents applauded the proposed move, saying their successful school should be accessible to even more students and families.
Most, though, were joined by Mayo teachers in expressing concern about Wilson's ability to be converted to match the open concept, or "no walls," design of the school's current home.
"The crown jewel of Mayo is the open design," said one man. "The academic and social success through this opportunity here - how is that going to be transferred over there? If it cannot be transferred, what will be lost is my child."
One woman said Mayo's open environment is the primary reason she enrolled her son, who she said "could not function in a contained environment."
Teacher Katherine Najera said the wide-open line of sight allows for constant collaboration and support among the faculty.
"It is tantamount to my success as a professional," she said. "We are successful because we have each other."
House pledged to weigh all pluses and minuses and even to reassess the proposal if facility improvements didn't meet the school's needs.
As for the overall Project Schoolhouse II plan, he went on to say many of the proposed changes are necessary because of the tremendous growth that is occurring in east Tulsa.
Tulsa Public Schools has more than 11,000 students residing in that area, which is now the largest quadrant within the school district's boundaries.
One proposal is to move office workers out of the Burbank facility and reuse it to house the primary grades of Bell Elementary School, which is located on the same campus at 6304 E. Admiral Blvd.
That, along with some boundary changes to the attendance areas of overcrowded schools nearby, including Jones and MacArthur elementary schools, would open up some additional seats.
Also, east Tulsa's Early Childhood Center-Reed would add the kindergarten classes from jam-packed Kerr and Lewis and Clark Elementary Schools, freeing up space in those buildings, as well.
Another school that has required portable classroom buildings for years - Sequoyah Elementary School - would move over the summer months to the nearby vacant and much larger Cleveland Middle School building.
That idea will be the topic of another parent forum, set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Sequoyah, 3441 E. Archer St.
TPS Project Schoolhouse II recommendations
- Mayo Demonstration School, 2525 S. 101st East Ave.,to the former Wilson Middle School facility, 1127 S. Columbia Ave., by the start of 2012-13 to allow for expansion.
- Sequoyah Elementary School, 3441 E. Archer St., to the former Cleveland Middle School, 724 N. Birmingham Ave., by August to relieve overcrowding.
- Early College High program at TCC Northeast Campus. Students would be sent to Rogers High School Early College Program, 3909 E. Fifth Place, beginning in August.
- Sequoyah Elementary School building at 3441 E. Archer St.
- Mayo Demonstration School facility at 2525 S. 101st East Ave.
- Greeley Elementary School, 105 E. 63rd St. North. Current students would have the option of transferring to nearby Gilcrease, 5550 N. Cincinnati Ave., or another elementary school or applying to Lighthouse Academy, the charter school that would lease the Greeley facility.
- Barnard, a vacant facility at 2324 E. 17th St., to the TPS charter school Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences for 2012-13.
- Greeley Elementary facility, which would close in May, to Lighthouse Academy charter school.
- Fulton Learning Academy, 8906 E. 34th St. Negotiations are under way to sell the facility to Town & Country, a private school.
- Roosevelt, 1202 W. Easton St. With the sale of Fulton Learning Academy to Town & Country, relocate professional development and curriculum to the Roosevelt building, as well as psychometrists, testing facilities, Indian Education and Teach For America, currently housed at Burbank.
- Burbank, 6304 E. Admiral Blvd., in 2012-13 as part of Bell Elementary School to relieve overcrowding at Bell.
- Early Childhood Development Center-Reed, 10908 E. Fifth St., to add pre-K and kindergarten students from nearby Kerr and Lewis and Clark elementary schools to alleviate overcrowding beginning in August.
- ECDC-Bunche, 5402 N. Cincinnati Ave., to add kindergarten classes in August.
- ECDC Porter, 1740 W. 41st St., to add pre-K and kindergarten students from nearby Park Elementary School in August.
Original Print Headline: TPS explores additional facility changes
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
Millard House II, deputy superintendent for Tulsa Public Schools, poses for a photo at the Education Service Center in Tulsa. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World