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Tulsa Parents Discuss District Consolidation At Community Forum

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Tulsa parents listen to leaders of the Project Schoolhouse initiative. Tulsa parents listen to leaders of the Project Schoolhouse initiative.
Parents attend Monday's forum, the first of nine public forums. Parents attend Monday's forum, the first of nine public forums.
Twan Jones, Central PTA President. Twan Jones, Central PTA President.
Neisha Whitaker is a senior at Central High School. Neisha Whitaker is a senior at Central High School.

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma – Tulsa Parents spoke out for the first time Monday night about Tulsa Public Schools effort to consolidate schools. The district is hosting nine community forums over the next month to get input from the public.

10/12/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Considers Consolidation

Project Schoolhouse leaders outlined their reasons for creating a leaner, more efficient school district. They say some schools are too small to be efficient. So by shutting some down, they'd actually be able to offer students more.

Read more about Project Schoolhouse

Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard said he doesn't have a magic number on how many schools would close. Two committees are evaluating all school sites top to bottom, using a ten-point criteria.

The district's 41,000 students are attending 58 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, and nine high schools. The last time TPS had that many students was back in 1952. Then, the district had 16 fewer elementary schools, five fewer middle schools, and half as many high schools.

It's like having 35 percent extra space and that is draining district resources.

Parents are concerned and surprisingly so are students.

"Even though it's not going to affect me at all because I'm going to be graduated and in college, Central means a lot to me. And I just want to make sure that nothing is going to happen to effect it negatively just because of money," said Neisha Whitaker, a senior at Central High School.

"If that's what it takes to consolidate some schools to provide more choices for our students than we're headed the right way," said Karen Gilbert, Tulsa PTA Council.

"When you start consolidating, tearing down schools you start tearing down communities," Twan Jones, Central PTA President, said.

Three different committees will meet over the next three months to come up with recommendations for the superintendent and the Tulsa school board.

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