Construction keeps school from cooking lunch

Wednesday, August 27th 2008, 6:58 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- It's been less than a week since Oklahoma City Schools started the new school year, but ongoing construction and crowding are already causing some concern.

At one school students and teachers have to adjust to facilities that aren't quite ready.

Several Oklahoma City Schools are being worked on, including Centennial High School. It's the construction at the other schools that are causing some additional problems there.

One huge classroom is for sixth-graders at Centennial High School and it holds about 75 students. Three teachers take turns conducting their class. Velma Washington's son is one of the students. She's not happy with the situation.

"They can't have a fair education," Washington said. "You can have distractions. You can't speak over the other teachers; the other students aren't paying total attention."

Sixth-graders are only there because the elementary schools they would normally go to are under construction.

Upgrades are also being made to the Centennial High cafeteria. So, right now, meals can't be cooked and as a result, lunches are being brought in.

"To me, the school is not ready to have the change over," Washington said.

All of the construction projects fall under the MAPS program. Fifteen schools are being worked on currently, including five elementary schools. Until they're finished schools like Centennial will have to help out.

"We're continuing to teach their kids," Tierney Cook with Oklahoma City Public Schools said. "They're still safe. They're still having an amazing time the first few weeks of school."

Centennial has identified some other rooms they can use for classrooms to ease the sixth-grade crowding.

As for that huge classroom, it will be divided in half with a partition to separate the classes. The cafeteria is expected to be back on-line in a week.

"I would hope that the parents would feel at ease with what we're doing with the students and how the faculty and stuff are dealing with the issues," Cook said.

The school district and MAPS is asking everyone for patience.

"I believe that the staff is trying because they have to do what they have to do," Washington said.

Centennial hopes to have those sixth-graders in smaller groups by the end of the week. All of the MAPS school construction projects should be completed by the year 2012.