Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

Mother shares concerns ahead of OKCPS meeting on school closures

OKLAHOMA CITY - Parents have shared their concerns ahead of a meeting announcing plans to re-align the Oklahoma City Public School District, closing 14-20 schools.

"I'm going to sit quietly, and listen and show my support for Harding," said Heather Graham.

Sign in tow - Graham showed up to work prepared to head straight to the highly-anticipated OKCPS meeting.

"I'm a mama bear," she said. "When it comes to my kids, I'm passionate and want the best for them."

The district has recommended closing the building that houses Harding Fine Arts Academy because the cost of making necessary repairs is just too high. Because it's a charter school - the actual school cannot close but it can be moved.

The three plans OKCPS is revealing come as part of the district's Pathway to Greatness Project.

The options have been whittled down - partially by public input since last summer.

Superintendent Sean McDaniel said the move to rearrange the district is necessary.

With more than 45,000 students, McDaniel said some schools are at capacity, while others have empty seats. He also cites the fact that some schools provide programs like art, music and PE, while others do not.

McDaniel said the three plans under consideration would put those programs in the schools, as well as full-time counselors.

"They're losing opportunities that - in other areas of the district - that's just taken for granted," he said. "And, that's not how schools should operate."

Graham is concerned about what a move could mean for students like her daughter that are involved and invested in their school.

"She's in basketball and violin. They have a great fine arts program," she said. "Our martial arts program just won in Chicago - so there's a lot of neat things going on at Harding Fine Arts."

Following the presentation of three options - there will be more community meetings in the days to come. Those are meetings Graham plans to attend.

"We just want to be involved and want the best for our children," she said. "We really want to give our students the best opportunity they have for their future."

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