Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Says Consolidation Long Overdue

Wednesday, April 13th 2011, 6:21 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The large-scale downsizing at Tulsa Public Schools is indeed historic, the kind of event that hasn't come along in the last 25 years, but Superintendent Keith Ballard says many of the decisions he's being criticized for now should have been made long ago.

Tulsa last closed down school buildings in mid 1980's, but since then has avoided both the controversy and reality of declining enrollment.

During the first official Project Schoolhouse forum Tuesday night, Dr. Keith Ballard said he's already narrowed down some of the possibilities, the first decisions he's announced under the reorganization.

Read the district's three Project Schoolhouse Proposals

"So we're beginning to make decisions, we're beginning to, the picture is getting clearer," Ballard said.

Ballard said his initial decisions are that Central High School will remain open, and there will be no schools with 1st through 8th grades in the same building.

Kids and parents are marching against school closings as the critics get more organized in trying to save especially the North Tulsa Schools.

"We are trying to save our school, our school, our community and we want to keep it that way," one parent said.

Ballard said he welcomes all the input, but he says the claim of a hidden agenda is unfair.

"Of course it's unfair, I'm doing what I truly believe is in the best interest of the students," he said. "But I am also the superintendent of schools and whether it's fair or unfair isn't the issue, you expect that in this position, but let me tell you I'm at peace and the reason is that I have been transparent like I said I would and we really are doing in the best interest of Tulsa Public Schools."

During the past 25 years of declining enrollment, the district has moved students between buildings, but never attempted what's happening now. Ballard says the lack of hard decisions has gotten the district to where it is.

"I can't answer that, I can only say that something should have happened since then and it should be an ongoing process," he said.

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