Consolidation Means Possible Expansion For Some TPS Programs

Thursday, March 31st 2011, 7:03 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Historic change could lead to a big boost for two Tulsa programs. While much of the conversation centers around Tulsa Public Schools shrinking, there is talk of expanding several popular programs.

[Read the Project Schoolhouse Proposals]

For every open seat, Mayo Demonstration Academy gets two to three applicants and keeps about two dozen students on the waiting list. Now TPS is thinking about capitalizing on that popularity.

Mayo is a little different from your typical school.

"Our community is what makes this school," said Kenneth Joslin, Mayo Principal. "The teachers, the families, the kids, and community partners."

Classes aren't sorted by grade, most rooms don't have walls and field trips don't just last for an afternoon.

"Friday night I spent the night in the building with all of our pre K and kindergarten teachers and parents those are the kinds of things that sense of community and belonging that make us unique," Joslin said.

Mayo and Tulsa's other demonstration academy, Thoreau, use cutting edge research to redefine learning. Now, TPS's consolidation efforts could bring those techniques to more students.

"They're both very popular programs. And what the creators of this plan were thinking is that we can expand enrollment in those areas," Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard said.

Under Proposal A, Grimes Elementary would no longer be a neighborhood school, but a new home for Mayo. Thoreau would move next door into Nimitz Middle School.

The moves would mean both programs could admit more children.

"One of the drawbacks to this building is that we are limited in the number of families we can serve. As a matter of fact, I've had several parents say to me it would be great if we could provide this opportunity to other kids," Joslin said.

District leaders say Proposal A would also try to replicate Mayo and Thoreau's success at Penn and a newly reopened Monroe.

"What makes us successful I think can be duplicated anywhere," Joslin said.

Even though he would like to accommodate more students and families, Joslin admits change could be a little tough.

"On a macro level this is what's best for Tulsa Public Schools," he said. "But at the same time, we have some emotional ties to this building and it would be hard to let go of that."

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