Westside families object to TPS consolidation proposals

Tulsa School Superintendent Deborah Gist met with parents last week at Webster High School to explain why the only three schools targeted for closure were in West Tulsa. Gist’s proposal would eliminate three of the seven schools in the Webster feeder group.

Those schools are Park Elementary, Remington Elementary and  Early Childhood Development Center-Porter, with students being shipped to Clinton Middle School. Clinton students (grades six through eight) would wind up at Webster High School under Gist’s plan.

TPS officials said the West Tulsa schools were targeted because of declining enrollment and an overabundance of classroom space.

Gist said these three were the “smallest and most under-utilized” in the district. Falling enrollment at Webster could eventually make TPS close that school, the only high school on the Westside.

Some parents are concerned that mixing middle school students with high school students at Webster would raise safety concerns. Officials claim there would be no mixing of the younger and older students. High school students would use separate buses and eat at a different cafeteria than middle school students.

TPS officials blamed the Oklahoma Legislature for “underfunding” public education. More than 50 percent of the state budget goes to public schools.

Other parents believe that the TPS consolidation plan would cause more families to move out of West Tulsa and that would make the low enrollment situation worse.

Community leaders are worried that closing those schools would leave empty buildings that would cause security issues and drag down adjoining property values. TPS has said it would not sell the buildings in hopes that enrollment would rebound at some point.