After A Summer Of Major Changes, Tulsa Public Schools Are Back In Session


Monday, August 22nd 2011, 12:13 pm
By: News On 6


Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Thousands of Tulsa Public School students returned to the classroom Monday morning. It was also the district's first real test of a new consolidation plan.

The historical overhaul had its hiccups, but they welcome this new beginning.

TPS leaders say they expected some consolidation-confusion on this first day back. So they put teams in place and signs in sight to make sure parents and students knew where to go.

The back to school balancing act has begun. With three children at three different Tulsa Public Schools with three different start times, one Tulsa mom says her head is spinning.

"I don't know. I think it's very confusing right now. Probably, just some time to get used to," said Katrina Jones, Mother of three.

TPS closed 14 sites, redrew boundary lines, and shuffled students and teachers to shrink the district and save millions of dollars. Then it changed the start times and bus routes.

"I think they kind of put the schedule out a little late, the bus schedule. But it worked, so. We were here. We made it," Jones said.

With all of those changes and more than 7,200 students in new buildings this year, the district deployed teams of administrators to troubleshoot any possible problems.

TPS superintendent Mike Howe said they only had a handful of issues at Hamilton Elementary, and district leaders say that's pretty representative of the other three troubleshooting offices.

"The craziness probably wasn't as crazy as it could have been," said Hamilton Principal Barbara Mayes.

Mayes says the hard work over the summer paid off with a fairly smooth first day, and consolidation is paying off with advantages her students have never had before.

"This is our first year to have an art teacher, since I've been principal in 15 years. So that's very exciting also," Mayes said.

Mayes says her biggest problem Monday wasn't getting students in the right place, but in school at the right time.

Most elementaries are starting a half hour earlier this year at 7:45 in the morning. So she did have quite a few tardies, but it's the first day so folks got a pass.