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Metro families pack community meetings over possible OKCPS school closures due to budget cuts

OKLAHOMA CITY - Parents at two metro schools showed up to standing-room-only meetings Tuesday night in hopes of keeping the doors open.

Both schools, Gatewood Elementary and Edgemere Elementary, are on a short list of schools slated to close because of budget cuts.

Hundreds of families full of concern filled a gymnasium Tuesday younger than the kids who go to school there.

The new gym at Gatewood Elementary was paid for by more than $2.5 million in MAPS funding.

“Hundreds of families are going to be displaced,” Tricia Graham said.

Tricia and Todd Graham walk their boys to pre-K every morning.

“We’ve got a brand new playground, swing sets, trees, all sorts of improvements that have happened over the past couple of years, we don’t see any sense in closing the school after all the improvements have just been made,” Tricia Graham said.

Gatewood is one of six schools slated to close under a proposal from the Oklahoma City Public School District.

Another meeting was held Tuesday night at Edgemere Elementary.

Both schools have just under 200 students.

The district says it could save money on support staff and keeping the lights on by sending these kids to other schools.

“I feel like a lot of our kids thrive in here because it’s a smaller school,” Graham said.

Candi McKinney teaches pre-K at Gatewood, and her daughter goes to school there.

“I’ve even heard several teachers in our school say they would be fine without a pay raise if we could just keep this school open,” McKinney said.

It all comes down to the bottom line and many asking why lawmakers won’t fund education to keep these kids together.

“The school board has been put in a terrible situation of having to make the worst of bad choices, and they wouldn’t have to be there if the legislature, if we, would just do our job and fund education the way that we should,” Rep. Jason Dunnington said.

For now, parents are relying on these public meetings to voice their concerns, while the kids themselves are making a powerful statement from hand-painted crafts to a fence reading “Save Gatewood” and “Save Edgemere.”

OKCPS is anticipating a $10 million cut from the legislature.