Child Development Center Faces Closing For Good


Monday, March 26th 2007, 8:39 pm
By: News On 6


The Tulsa School Board discusses the superintendent's new plan for the district Monday night. The plan calls for several programs to be closed and students reassigned, including the Bunche Early Childhood Development Center. The center has been the first school home for thousands of children, but News On 6 education reporter Ashli Sims reports after 34 years and dozens of accolades, the program faces closing its doors for good.

"I think we were mostly shocked over the fact that such a successful school got targeted," said ECDC parent Lenore Brown.

Brown says two of her four children have attended ECDC and a third was slated to come next fall. Her sister-in-law Rosemary Brown also has a child at the school. Both say they couldn't believe ECDC could be closed as part of Superintendent Dr. Michael Zolkoski's reorganization plan.

"If the school was low-performing? If it wasn't being successful? If the kids weren't coming out of here doing what they're supposed to do and succeeding at the next level? Then I would understand,” said Rosemary Brown. “But it's not any of those things."

“10 years ago, it was cutting edge,” said Zolkoski. “Currently, we're trying to get our 4-year-olds with their brothers and sisters."

In keeping with his push for families of schools, Zolkoski wants 4-year-olds to go to pre-K programs in their neighborhood schools.

“So the principals also have the advantage of working with the four-year-old program as they come into the schools, rather than they're fragmenting all over the place,” he said. “And I truly believe that kids belong in their neighborhood and we shouldn't be bussing them all over place.

Rosemary and Lenore Brown are concerned about their 4-year-olds being exposed to fifth-graders, and Rosemary Brown says she specifically didn't send her child to her neighborhood school because it's on the needs improvement list. The two are standing behind their school. Lenore even started a website called www.savebuncheecdc.com.

"We had to get the word out that this proposal was out there,” said Lenore Brown. “And I feel strongly that the community is not going to support them closing a successful program down."

More than 20 elementary schools only have half-day pre-K programs. 8 don't have a district-run, 4-year-old program. Zolkoki says he's working on a plan to have full-day, pre-K at every school site.