Owen Park Residents Discuss New Alternative School

Saturday, January 3rd 2009, 7:11 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa neighborhood is up in arms over plans to move a new alternative school into their backyard. The New Vision Academy is a program for high school students with drug and alcohol problems.

More than 50 Owen Park residents met with Tulsa Public School Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard on Saturday to voice their opposition.

"This issue has not even been put before the school board. It's just an opportunity for us to come out and visit with you," said Dr, Keith Ballard, Tulsa Public School Superintendent.

Related Story: 1/2/2009 Tulsa's New Vision Program Could Shut Down

New Vision has a temporary home, but that ends this semester. Owen Park residents say moving the program there will bring vandalism, debris and loitering.

"Here is another program that deals with individuals, children, who may have problems and those problems spreading out into the neighborhood," said David Phillips, Owen Park resident.

New Vision has 20 students with two teachers and a councilor. Phillips says he's concerned about what happens after the school day ends.

"Yes, there was property damage done by individuals, the children who attended these schools beforehand," said Phillips.

Tulsa Public School students caught with drugs get a 45-day suspension.

Many neighbors fear the school will balloon from a small program, to a collection of students with nowhere else to go.

"Twenty, 24, now we hear 60; When they had Phoenix here, they had a little over 100," said Mark Simmons, Owen Park resident.

"If it's successful, why should it end at 20? Is my way of looking at it," said Philip Hensley, Owen Park resident. "I think it's a good idea to get these kids help now before they get further along."

Despite assurances from administrators that safety is their top concern, many residents say they will continue to fight the proposal.

Dr. Ballard says he'll make his recommendation to the school board in two weeks. But, Dr. Ballard told The News On 6 after Saturday's open house, it's unlikely he could support the move. Still, he plans on holding more meetings to discuss options.