Neighbors Fear Closed Tulsa School Sites Will Become Targets For Vandals

Thursday, July 7th 2011, 9:19 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The historic overhaul at Tulsa Public Schools left behind 14 abandoned schools and fresh fears among neighbors. They worried those empty buildings would turn into eyesores.

There are signs of disrepair at Wilson Middle School.

"The longer a building's empty it's going to get run down, get in bad shape," Tom Neal, with the Renaissance Neighborhood Association, said.

It's something neighbors worried about from the get-go when Tulsa Public Schools announced its consolidation plan. But the district's police department says there's no cause for concern.

"It's normal. During the year we have vandalized property as far as broken windows, graffiti," Assistant Chief Dwight Jackson said.

It also happens every summer when school's out. Last June, TPS replaced 38 broken windows around the district. This June, it replaced 31 broken windows.

"We keep our property up. We continue to have video surveillance as well as personnel surveillance," Jackson said.

The district owns 90 sites. It has zone managers that drive around to each one, every day, looking specifically for things like broken windows.

"I don't know that other than kids out late at night, messing around, I don't know that vandalism is really a problem at this point," Neal said.

The police department at Tulsa Public Schools says it doesn't have the manpower to constantly patrol a particular school for vandalism, but will give Wilson more attention, hoping the watchful eyes in the sky keep vandals at bay.

"The neighborhood's going to have a wait-and-see attitude and just see if it becomes a problem," Neal said.

Wilson Middle School is the first closed school up for sale. Neighbors are hoping for a very quick sale, so they won't have to worry as much about vandalism.

7/6/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Weighs Bid For Closed Site