Tulsa School Facing Closure Gets Last Minute Reprieve

Friday, April 22nd 2011, 8:51 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma --The new consolidation plan brought hope to a handful of neighborhood schools that were on the brink of shutting down.

4/22/2011 Related Story: 14 Tulsa Public Schools To Close Under Superintendent's Final Proposal

One of those schools, Chouteau Elementary, would have closed under two of the three original plans. Thanks to quick action from the community the school survives. But the future holds a twist.

It was bus stop talk for weeks. The chatter turned to confusion at open-mic forums.

"We've been praying about it," said Chouteau parent Toshia Wilson.

When the neighborhood heard the school they love could close, everyone from kids to parents and teachers were obviously very upset. But one person decided they had to do more than complain.

"What someone always told me was, if you have a complaint about something, try to figure out a solution to it," said Annie Remus, Chouteau Teacher.

So Remus closed the door on the doldrums and put pen to paper.

"How could we make a plan that would help the Central feeder pattern and keep our team together?" She asked.

Remus crunched numbers, test scores, grades and enrollment.

"They basically just showed the Board of Education what we do here at Chouteau and why Chouteau is a success," Wilson said.

Remus' homework showed the kids are more important than the building.

"They said they wanted input so we gave them input," Remus said.

Her proposal called for the school to stay open and for Cougar Crossing to relocate to Madison Middle School.

When she suggested Chouteau move a few blocks away to the Madison Middle School building, parents were on board.

"I think it will give us more space. A little more room to grow," Wilson said.

Finally, the teacher convinced the superintendent whose message rang loud and clear from the podium to the schoolyard.

"I think it is a big relief that we're going to stay open," Wilson said.

Read all of Dr. Ballard's final recommendation

Proving an old lesson can convince a community to put on their thinking caps and save the school.

The move to the Madison building raises questions about where transfers will go. The Chouteau community says the answer will come in time. For now, their school stays open and that's what matters.