“These kids are our future,” OKCPS leaders plan to keep schools open, take funding fight to Capitol

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OKLAHOMA CITY – After weeks of worry, a handful of Oklahoma City schools will stay open.

The plan was tabled Thursday night, but that doesn’t mean cuts aren’t coming.

For the hundreds of families who filled cafeterias and gymnasiums urging district leaders to keep your schools open, your voices were heard.

In a special board meeting Thursday night, Superintendent Aurora Lora offered a plan B to keep five elementary schools open that were in danger of closing.

“I hope you will stand united with me to tell our legislature that they must do better, and we are not going to let them off the hook,” Lora said.

The district is planning for up to $10 million in funding cuts.

Leaders plan to reduce teaching positions by increasing elementary class sizes and consolidating sixth grade classes.

They also plan to cancel some bus leases and cut jobs at the central office.

There are some other creative options, too, like selling ads on buses and buildings.

Some board members want to reconsider the continuous learning calendar.

“That avoids being in school in August, which is the most expensive month of the year for utilities, and that’s where the half million dollars in savings is generated at a time we’re looking at every penny. I think that $500,000 is a pretty persuasive reason to go back and start in September,” board member Bob Hammack said.

Throughout the process, there’s been frustration with the Oklahoma legislature, which has cut education funding the past four years.

“It is terrible that we are being forced to make horrible decisions that we know are going to negatively impact the education of our students,” Lora said.

Senator Kay Floyd was the board meeting and told NewsChannel 4 that when it comes to the budget this year, everything is on the table.

“When you have this much community involvement and this many people speaking up, I think they deserve to be heard,” Sen. Floyd said.

“These kids are our future. If we don’t build them up and educate them now, what will we have?” teacher Harold Smith said.

While the schools that were in danger of closing will now stay open for another year, things could change as the redistricting process moves forward.

Superintendent Lora and leaders from Tulsa Public Schools will hold a press conference at the state capitol next week to urge lawmakers to fund education properly.

You can read the full budget reduction plan here.

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