Donor pledges to match donations for Arts and Sciences school
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 13, 2012
9/13/12 at 8:22 AM
A donor has pledged to match more than $90,000 in donations to a charter high school that was devastated by fire last week.
The Tulsa Community Foundation has established the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences Phoenix Fund to accept donations toward the matching drive, school leaders announced at a Wednesday evening meeting.
Parents and students said they were encouraged by the outpouring of community support since a three-alarm blaze destroyed the former Barnard Elementary School building just weeks after Arts and Sciences relocated there from an office park.
"I am a very proud parent," said Neeley Wyatt, mother of sophomore Mattie Wyatt. "I actually have more hope now than I did before because of the way they have handled this."
Tulsa Public Schools, the charter school's sponsor, moved swiftly to prepare the vacant Sequoyah Elementary School building at 3441 E. Archer St., so that classes could resume immediately.
School Director Eric Doss said Arts and Sciences will lease the building through the end of 2012-13 but that a decision about what to do beyond that will require parent and student input and the governing board's deliberation over the next few months.
"There are challenges. Some are the exact challenges we just addressed at the old building, which is so frustrating," Doss said.
For starters, Sequoyah has virtually no parking. A temporary gravel lot will be created soon, but students are being encouraged to carpool and to be considerate of the school's neighboring residents regarding where they park.
Although the school had insurance, payment of claims seems a ways off. The matching funds will be critical for the school's immediate operational costs and for rebuilding its information technology system, Doss said.
"We have already received $30,000 in donations, which is just amazing," he said.
Mattie Wyatt said she didn't fully realize the gravity of the situation until Arts and Sciences resumed its normal class schedule this week.
"I think I was in shock for a couple of days," she said. "On Monday, in classes, I realized how much stuff we didn't have."
Principal Liesa Smith encouraged students and teachers to take advantage of counseling services available to them and to continue to have faith in each other and the successful school community they represent.
"We are all forever changed because of a week ago, but beyond that one day, we will have TSAS marked on us even bigger than that," Smith said. "We have always risen - above finances, adversity, small, little classrooms (in the office park) where we were cramped. We are TSAS; we rise."
Original Print Headline: Fund set up to raise money for Arts and Sciences
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470