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Councilman presents idea for city to sponsor Oklahoma City Public Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY - It has been a tumultuous few years for the Oklahoma City Public Schools district.

Last month, Superintendent Aurora Lora submitted her resignation to the district. Lora became superintendent after the previous superintendent, Robert Neu, resigned in 2016.

Now, an Oklahoma City councilman is proposing a major change to the way the district works.

During a recent council meeting, Ward 5 Councilman David Greenwell proposed changing Oklahoma City Public Schools to a charter district.

“We would be the sponsor and thereby appoint members to serve on the board of directors,” Greenwell said.

Right now, board members are elected by district. Greenwell believes being able to appoint members will generate more confidence within the community.

“The goal is to get a group of diverse people, individuals who share a common concern of the welfare of the children of Oklahoma City,” Greenwell said.

Greenwell also points out he doesn't want the city to take over day-to-day operations but said the district would be able to utilize the city's resources if they sponsored the district.

“City Manager Couch could work with the new superintendent on management-type issues,” Greenwell said. "The facilities director of the district could work with Eric Winger, our public service director."

However, law would have to change to allow the city to sponsor a charter school. It is something currently not allowed, according to the Oklahoma Charter School Act.

The board chair for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Paula Lewis, sent News 4 a statement, saying:

"The Oklahoma City Board of Education takes seriously our legal responsibility for the governance of the school system, and we welcome the support and partnership of the city of Oklahoma City and our community. At this time, Oklahoma law does not support changes in the governance structure of the school system. The board is committed to engaging in governance coaching and a transparent search process to establish the conditions necessary for continuous improvement and sustainable leadership in OKCPS, the outcome all of us desire for the 46,000 students we serve each day."

Greenwell said it wouldn't affect students or teachers unions but would focus on the leadership of the district.

Oklahoma City Mayor-Elect David Holt sent us a statement that reads: “Education is the greatest challenge facing our city, and that's why I've committed to working with all interested parties to develop a strategic vision for the future of public education in our city. An inclusive discussion that leads to a community consensus will take some time, and I think we're just at the beginning of that conversation. At this early stage, I don't rule anything in or out. I appreciate anyone who is passionate about the issue and contributing ideas to the public discourse.”