Bartlesville School Board Delays Decision On Closing Elementary School

Monday, April 18th 2011, 10:09 am
By: News On 6

BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma -- Tulsa is not the only Green Country district having to make tough decisions.  Bartlesville put one of it's elementary schools on the chopping block Monday night.

But after a meeting that lasted several hours, the Bartlesville School board did not make a decision Monday night whether to close Oak Park Elementary.

Instead, they tabled the motion until the next meeting on May 5, 2011.

"It's something to where we have to tighten the belt, and when we look at something like Oak Park, we would save approximately $600,000," David Austin, with Bartlesville Public Schools, said.

The district says 60 percent of its funding comes from the state. The budget will be down $2.5 million next year.

With 262 students, Oak Park Elementary is the smallest school.There are 22 empty classrooms at other, newly-renovated schools.

All students and teachers will be relocated to one of the remaining six elementary schools.

As a result, for the first time since 1985, neighborhood school boundaries will change. So, kids all over Bartlesville could move to different schools next year.

Monday night's meeting was standing-room only with dozens more listening from the hallway. Concerned families spoke for an hour and a half, hoping to convince the board to keep Oak Park Elementary open.

"In this petition I hold in front of me with 859 signatures shows that we the citizens of Bartlesville do care and do not want our schools or districts to change," Teresa Morgan said.

"Closing this school is going to kill our community," Wesley Roper said.  "There isn't anything else out there.  If you haven't been to Oak Park we have a school. That's it."

"A lot of these families have no vehicle, they do not have any extra money for gas, we enjoy being able to walk with our children to school," Cherie Sullivan said.

If approved, students at Oak Park Elementary School would attend Wilson Elementary School on the east side of Bartlesville.

Closing down the school and saving $600,000 won't make a dent in the budget shortfall. The district expects to make even deeper cuts in the coming months

4/7/2011 Related Story: Bartlesville School Board Discusses Closing An Elementary School