Jon Jordan, News 9
DEL CITY, Oklahoma -- During a special meeting Monday night, the Mid-Del School Board voted unanimously to sell two school buildings in the district as a way to pay for improvements in the district. Those schools include Traub and Sooner-Rose Elementary.
The decision to do so has angered parents whose children attended both schools. April Miller has had three children who have gone to Traub.
"I don't see how it's going to help the children putting them into a school that has more kids in it. That one-on-one is not going to be there. Big classrooms is just not good," Miller said.
Miller said the decision is not only bad for the students, but something she didn't see coming.
"It was a really big surprise, I was like, wow. A friend of mine was like, 'Did you hear the news,'" Miller said.
Katherine Patton whose had three generations in her family attend Sooner-Rose said "[closing the schools] was the dumbest thing they've ever done."
Her daughter who attended Sooner-Rose and whose child went there as well doesn't understand the board's reasoning.
"I don't understand why they are going to be able to close it down because we need the school to be open. There is just too many kids for them to close it down," Candice Patten said.
But Mid-Del school board member Le Roy Porter said the decision by the board to close the schools was something they had been considering for sometime.
"Our buildings are expensive to keep open so we've been discussing off and on for three years about consolidation," Porter said.
Porter also said selling off the schools was not an easy decision but considering the age and cost off the schools they had to act.
"We do not need as many elementary schools as we have" Porter said."It's one of those things, economics drives a lot of the things we do. A schools is a business, and we are in the business of education children and we trying to do the best we can for students."
The biggest reason to close the elementary schools Porter said is because the district continues to lose students. He said over the past three decades the district has lost some 3,000 students.
Currently he said the district stands at some 14,000 plus students compared to the early 80s when the district boasted numbers over 17,000. Closing the schools, he said, is something that communities must face when student population declines.
"As a community loses its student population then a school [district] for survival has to do consolidation to try and to things that offer the best education that they can," Porter said.
The boards decision comes just months after voters voted again a $191 million bond issue that would have paid for four new schools in the Mid-Del School District. Their decision also comes as Traub Elementary was putting the finishing touches on a brand new playground bought and paid for through donations.
Wood Group who was building the playground had posted this statement on their website:
"The Wood Group is a world wide business that has partnered with our school to make a difference in the lives of Traub Yellow Jackets. Not only do Wood Group employees volunteer their time to mentor students, they also help fund raise for needed items. Recently Wood Group organized a golf tournament to benefit Traub. We are excited to announce that more than $85,000.00 was raised to provide Traub with a new playground! We are very grateful for their generosity and proud to be associated with such a wonderful company. Thank You Wood Group!"
In light of the board's vote to sell the schools, the district said they are left with two options.
Option one, they sell the schools outright causing the schools to close as early as this year, or option two, the district sells the schools and the buyer leases the buildings back to the district. If that happens, the schools may remain open for up to three years.
A spokesperson for the district said they are open to either option. The board is expected to be informed on what will happen when the board meets during an April board meeting.