MID-DEL, Okla. (KFOR) – A years-long study by a state agency dug into how to improve the Mid-Del School District and recommended closing some elementary schools because of low enrollment rates and outdated or under-utilized buildings.
“If there’s a space to shift things around, I think it’s worth looking at it,” said Mid-Del Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Cobb.
In all, the Oklahoma Office of Educational Quality and Accountability found 71 recommendations for improving operations and student education within the district. One of them was a recommendation to shut down four elementary schools.
“We might close zero, one, two, [but] I don’t see us getting to four,” said Dr. Cobb.
The schools up for possible closure include Cleveland Bailey, Country Estates, Highland Park, Ridgecrest, Steed and Townsend Elementary Schools.
Mid-Del Superintendent, Dr. Rick Cobb, said even before the pandemic, the schools saw low enrollment numbers.
“We would have to align the attendance boundaries to make sure we’re not pushing class sizes way up,” said the Superintendent.
Dr. Cobb said many of the schools are also outdated. Many of them have been standing since the 1950s.
“We have some areas where kids are going to school in a building that’s 70-years-old, and it’s less than a mile away from another school that is less than 10 years old,” he said.
“I would say seasoned buildings,” said Kanika Polk, a former Mid-Del substitute teacher and mother of seven.
One of Polk’s daughters attends Highland Park elementary.
“It brings communities together, instead of [saying] just, ‘Oh we just here for school,’” said Polk. “You are able to grow with each other when you’re there. When you’re bussed out, it kind of takes away some of that.”
Polk said she’s fearful about the idea of her young child being bussed across town for school and worried other kids could miss out on after-school activities because they can’t walk to school.
“There are many people kids that can’t participate because their parents, can’t get them back and forth. But if they have it in their community, they can walk there,” she said.
“Whether we close schools or not, we need to make some decisions about how we’re going to maintain the facilities that we keep open,” said the superintendent.
Dr. Cobb said so far, no decisions have been made to close schools.
The superintendent said the district is also working on putting together an Elementary Realignment Committee, made up of parents, staff and the community, to see how they can work with their old buildings and use the space the best way they can.