Tulsa Public Schools Considers Consolidation

Friday, November 12th 2010, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6


TULSA, Oklahoma --  Tulsa Public Schools is considering a major shake-up that could mean fewer schools next year.

TPS is launching an initiative to maximize its resources and that could mean closing several Tulsa school sites.

Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard said he doesn't have a magic number. But he said the district needs to make sure its stretching every dollar. And that means TPS may have to make some tough choices.

"Is it something we want to do? Not really. Is it something we want to undertake? Not really. Is it the responsible thing to do? Really, yes it is," Ballard said.

Dr. Keith Ballard is not trying to commit political suicide. He says the district is facing a financial tsunami, with federal stimulus dollars drying up next year, the state's rainy day fund practically tapped out, and the economy taking its time to recover.

"It really is what is in the best interest of kids, but we also need to take a look at being as efficient as we possibly can," he said.

Back in the late 1960s, TPS enrollment peaked at more than 85,000 students. Then it had 90 school sites. Now, TPS has half the students and still 90 sites.

Ballard says that's not an efficient use of the district's dollars. The district is launching Project Schoolhouse to maximize its resources.

Every school will be graded on a ten-point scorecard, which will include enrollment trends, academic performance, location, condition of the building, culture, and impact on the district's bottom line.

District leaders say there's no set number of schools and no particular part of town that will be targeted.

"There will be a lot of input into this. This will be an open and transparent process," Ballard said. "And if parents know their kids will be going to something better than they have then it will be easier to support."

The Tulsa School Board was presented with the Project Schoolhouse initiative Friday evening. They will be voting in the coming weeks to establish several committees to make the plan happen.

According to the timeline they were given, some schools could be identified for closure by May of next year.