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Parents upset over potential TPS school closures

Posted at 6:52 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-03 19:52:33-05

TULSA, Okla. — Budget cuts at TPS are forcing the district to propose several school closures. The district needs to cut $20 million from next year's budget. It is recommending closing Mark Twain, Jones, Grimes and Wright elementary schools.

More than 1,000 elementary students in the Tulsa Public School District could be forced to change schools. Parents and students at Wright Elementary were upset after receiving a letter Tuesday notifying them of the potential closure.

“As I walked up to pick up my daughter, she was just in tears," said Cricket Moore. "I could barely understand what she was saying. She just kept mumbling over and over she doesn’t want her school to close. They told her they’re closing. I don’t know what to do. We have to leave everyone. It’s so terrible.”

One group especially not happy about the potential closures is the families of special education students at Wright Elementary. The school hosts the district’s only deaf program for elementary students, which, according to the Tulsa Classroom Teacher's Association, would move to Patrick Henry if Wright Elementary is closed. Shelley Anderson said taking her deaf son away from the school could be devastating.

“Just because this is all he knows," she said. "And being around the deaf education. And being around the children here as well. This is where he’s been since he was 3.”

TCTA said no teacher would lose their job. They would all be relocated to a new school. With the possible closure of schools, they worry some students will leave the district for good.

“There is a real fear that we will lose more students and families because we’re already losing so many to the suburbs," said Shawna Mott-Wright, vice president of TCTA. "It's heartbreaking. It's infuriating. It's not anything we take lightly or want to happen."

Parents at Wright Elementary said they are not happy with how TPS is communicating with them. And they’re worried about the long term effect this could have on their children.

“You know, things that these children are going through are going to affect their ability to learn," Moore said. "They’re going to be affecting the teachers who are going to try to deal with these behaviors and emotions that are coming out. And you know it’s already tough enough trying to squeeze people into these classrooms.”

No decision has been made yet. The TPS School Board will vote to make the final decision.

More information can be found on the TPS website.

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