TPS Makes Final Push For School Consolidation

Friday, March 25th 2011, 6:32 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- As Tulsa Public Schools plans for big shifts in where students attend school, Superintendent Doctor Ballard said Friday he's not opposed to student transfers, but he doesn't want parents transferring to schools because they're better.

3/22/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools To Release Consolidation Proposals Next Week

The process of selling Project Schoolhouse continued Friday at Fulton Learning Academy, where Superintendent Keith Ballard briefed 89 TPS principals on the plan.

They saw a still evolving list of what's in store as TPS tries to cut spending and offer every student the same quality of education.

"But we want to provide equal opportunities, we want to iron those out and inequalities do exist today, the data shows that, and that's what we're going after," Ballard said.

Ballard says the plans are a guide, but he's looking for public input to settle what parents want.

"We have 3 plans, a platform if you will, that we're going to build on and now's the time to get public input and do research on all the ideas that have come forward," he said.

3/23/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Poll Parents On District Consolidation

The timeline is short, the plans will come out Tuesday and during April the district will take public comment.

In May, Doctor Ballard will combine the plans into one and recommend it the school board for a vote. The changes will take effect with the start of school in the fall.

"Each plan will be comprehensive in and of itself but I can say without a doubt none of those plans will be adopted as the final plan in its entirety," Ballard said.

Ballard sent parents a survey about possible benefits of eliminating low enrollment schools. It also questions parents about transfers out of neighborhood schools.

Take The Project Schoolhouse Parent Survey

Transfers could be more restricted in more crowded schools.

"We're not opposed to transfers at all and we think magnet schools are good. But I think as a result of being the District of Choice and all the emphasis on that is that we've had people say 'where is the grass greener' and they're jumping over there," Ballard said.

Ballard says he wants to make transfers for preference unnecessary by evening out those inequities, so the closest school would be as good as one further away.

The survey is also gauging support for a year round school calendar for all schools, a switch already underway in Oklahoma City.

02/21/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Parents Voice Opposition To School Consolidation Plan