Working on getting children at Camp Gruber back in school

Tuesday, September 6th 2005, 1:17 pm
By: News On 6

One of the needs of the hurricane evacuees at Camp Gruber in Muskogee is education for the children. Tuesday morning educators and elected officials from the area around Camp Gruber met to formulate a plan.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells has more on how the plan will work. Olivia Richardson arrived at Camp Gruber over the weekend along with the other evacuees. Like many, she has her children with her. "I have two but these three right here are my little cousins." They range in age from 7 to 14, and if they weren't here they'd be in school.

Officials at Camp Gruber estimate there are nearly, 270 children of school age at the camp and plans are in the works to get them in class. State senator Earl Garrison: "We need to get our kids; these are our kids now, in schools."

Garrison is the former school superintendent at Fort Gibson. He and state Representative Barbara Staggs gathered school officials from around the area, and in about an hour they had a plan. Earl Garrison: "We'll have the elementary and junior high kids come to Muskogee which is about a 15 minute ride." Braggs will operate a pre-school at Camp Gruber and the high schoolers will go to Tahlequah. Buses will pick them up and bring them back each day.

Senator Garrison says funding to reimburse schools for the extra students will come from the federal government but exact details haven't been worked out. He says the first priority is to get them in school. As for Olivia Richardson, this is all coming at her very fast. "It's like I'm thinking I'm in the Twilight Zone or something."

Her life has been turned upside down; she's like to relocate somewhere outside Louisiana, in the meantime school for her kids would be a blessing. Hopefully, the students will be in their new schools by Monday.

Parents at Camp Gruber should be getting more information on Wednesday.

For more information about enrolling students displaced by the hurricane, you can call the Oklahoma CARES education initiative hotline. The number is 1-888-757-OKLA.