UPDATE: At 11 a.m. Monday Oklahoma City Public Schools released a statement saying they have decided to "move forward with staffing" North Highland Elementary for the upcoming school year, and have decided against a closure.
Read the statement below:
“After careful consideration and exploring a variety of options, OKCPS Superintendent Aurora Lora has made the decision to move forward with staffing North Highland Elementary for the 2017-18 school year so we can welcome students on August 1st. To facilitate this, Supt. Lora will appoint an interim principal, and district teams will work to staff the building with additional supports including an extra assistant principal, full-time counselor, and two social workers, all of which were allocated to North Highland prior to the consideration of a temporary closure. North Highland students will also be offered the option to transfer to neighboring schools with space via a transfer process to be coordinated by the Superintendent’s office. The transfer application process will be communicated to families this week.”
School officials also said they do not yet have an estimate on the damages that are a result of vandalism over the weekend.
Coming on the heels of a significant vandalism, Oklahoma City school board officials are set to vote on temporarily closing North Highland Elementary tonight due to a staffing crisis.
With just over a month left in the summer break, North Highland has neither a principal nor any office staff and only four core teachers are set to return. School officials also tell us students would be reassigned to nearby Britton Elementary if the school is closed.
This staffing crisis, though, is statewide. The state school board just approved over 220 emergency teachers. That's compared to just 77 at the same meeting last year. This weekend, Republican representative Leslie Osbourn said, even in Mustang, 17 teachers decided not to re-sign with the school immediately after the legislative session.
"This is one of our abject failures this year," Osbourn said, "that we did not move something to move forward with teacher pay. We aren't able to recruit bright, young people to go into the field and when they do, they leave the state and we're not able to retain the ones we need to retain. Shame on us on not getting something done and working together."
The vote to close North Highland or not is set for 5:30 p.m. tonight. A rally is expected to be held in hopes the school will stay open.