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TPS Board of Education set to vote on school closures

Posted at 9:52 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-20 23:17:49-05

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Public School’s Board of Education is expected to vote on changes to the district to help fix its $20 million budget deficit.

The Board of Education could approve the closure of four elementary schools. The closures would save the district $2 million to $3 million dollars.

Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist is recommending closing Jones, Grimes, Mark Twain and Wright Elementary schools.

Students at Jones would go to either MacArthur, Lindbergh or Bell Elementary. Grimes students would go to Carnegie or Key Elementary. Mark Twain students would go to Wayman Tisdale Fine Arts Academy. Wright Elementary would go to Eliot or Patrick Henry Elementary.

Many parents have spoken out against the closures. Mary Hooks, whose children go to Wright, said she’s afraid the schools will be overcrowded.

“But both of these schools that they’re trying to put us all in are already almost at their capacity," Hooks said. "So, that leaves very little space for all these kids.”

Another big issue for Hooks and other parents is possibly moving the deaf education program from Wright to Patrick Henry.

“The deaf ed program is very important to us as a whole," Hooks said. "Yeah, we would move altogether, but it’s still the fact that this is where we’ve had our kids for six, seven years plus.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board will also vote on a new staffing plan that would increase elementary class sizes from 23 to 24. They will not be voting on the more than 80 district-wide job cuts that were announced last week to save $13 million to $14 million. That vote will come later. But it’s not far from the minds of those who it will affect, especially support staff employees. A representative for the American Federation of Teachers Union 6049, which represents more than 2,000 members of the district support staff, said they feel like they’re in limbo.

“Here at Wright, there’s a building and grounds supervisor, there’s a principal’s secretary, there is a manager of the cafeteria," said Nancy Leonard, vice president of AFT 6049. "If they move these people to another position, they’re going to lose pay even if they’re able to keep their job.”

The board will also vote on changing grade configurations for several elementary, middle and junior high schools.

The meeting is Tuesday night at 6:30 at the Education Service Center.

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