North Tulsa Community Leaders To TPS: Don't Close Our Schools

Saturday, January 29th 2011, 6:48 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- North Tulsa community leaders had an emphatic message for the Tulsa School District Saturday: Don't close our schools.

They're talking about Tulsa Public Schools effort to consolidate schools because of under enrollment and dwindling finances.

They made those comments at a meeting for the newly elected officers of the NAACP.

While their big push is keeping north side schools open, they also had another community concern.

"When you look at history, they always tell us there's no list. But there's always a list and the list always begins in our community," said Warren Blakney Sr., NAACP Tulsa Branch President.

The NAACP President of the Tulsa Branch believes north side schools are on the chopping block and he says he has a better solution.

"Bring some of the things that are in south Tulsa, where kids have had to move to access music and other things in their community that they can't get, bring those kinds of programs to our schools and you can help fill capacity," he said.

But, TPS says it hasn't made any decisions. Right now, closing schools is just one possibility. And, district leaders say it's too early to know which schools would even be considered for closure.

"We are measuring all of the schools against the same ten lenses so that we can be sure we're being fair across the board," said Jim McCarthy, Project Schoolhouse Facilitator.

The ten-point score card will look at things like enrollment, performance and the building's condition.

"Most importantly, we're looking for new and innovative solutions to some of the areas of concern that are being raised by the data that we have generated," McCarthy said.

"If you are going to close our schools, tell us why, and I believe that there's no reason they should be closing our schools," Blakney Sr. said.

Schools aren't the only concern for the new NAACP leaders. They also want to see more black officers in the Tulsa Police Department.

The latest academy has 42 cadets and only one of them is black. Officer Leland Ashley says five black applicants enrolled, but only one met the hiring criteria.

"We need young black males to see other black males in their own community. The most dangerous interaction that a black boy will have, outside of another black male, is with a white police officer," Warren Blakney Sr. said.

"We are disappointed in the numbers. We would like to have more minority candidates in the police department, in the police academy," Said Tulsa Police Officer Leland Ashley.

TPD currently has 79 black officers, which is about 10 percent of the force.

"As we move forward, we will aggressively recruit minority applicants, whether that's here in the city of Tulsa or in the surrounding states," Ashley said.

For Project Schoolhouse, the next community forum is Monday at Booker T. Washington High School at 6 p.m.

And the forum that was canceled last week at McLain High School because of weather has been rescheduled for February 8th at 6 p.m.