Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Dozens of parents say Tulsa Public Schools' historic overhaul shouldn't mess with a good thing.

Grimes Elementary parents grilled the district's leader over the controversial consolidation plans.

It's the conundrum TPS is wrestling with for several schools: on one hand the schools are too small to be efficient and their neighborhoods aren't growing; on the other hand, parents say you can't argue with success.

Grimes kicked off its parent meeting by showing off some of its musical talent. Parents say this is just one of the things that make their school unique.

"Grimes is an excellent school and we offer programs here on the elementary level that other schools don't have," Lisa Morgan, Grimes PTA President, said.

Yet, Grimes parents found the word "closed" next to their school's name on one of the consolidation proposals.

"I don't really know why we're on the list," Morgan said.

District leaders say TPS is operating on $20 million fewer dollars that last year and it must shrink to survive. One of the three consolidation proposals now circulating calls for Grimes to close as a neighborhood school and an expanded Mayo Demonstration Academy to take over the building.

"We're very concerned about it," Morgan said. "You know we feel that we have an excellent school here. And for us as parents, we feel like why would we close down what's really good just to move another program in here."

Some Grimes parents argue this is a school parents want their students to attend, with 64 percent of students transferring in from other schools in the district.

"That's the school you want for Tulsa Public, well it's here!" one woman said as the crowd erupted in applause.

District leaders have tried to sell consolidation, by promising parents "trade-ups" or new benefits, like more extracurricular activities and electives.

"Trade up is kind of the key word that they're using. For our students there would be no trade-up if they went to another school. What we offer is the best," Morgan said.

Grimes does offer things that other schools don't. Tulsa Public Schools says that's part of the inequity in the district that leaders hope to correct.

If your school is holding a meeting to discuss district consolidation, News On 6 education reporter Ashli Sims wants to know.  Send her information about the meeting, where it is taking place and when at ashli.sims@newson6.net

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