- Trade-ups – decisions to redirect resources toward optimal uses that provide additional educational opportunities for students
- Equity – strategic decision making with the intention of closing learning and opportunity gaps by providing resources according to student need
- Repurposing – changing the use of a current school building. This might include housing district services, or leasing/selling facilities for use by an external entity
- Reconfigured - changing the grades served based on new grade bands.
- Grade band – the span of grades that is served within a school building (e.g. PK-4, 5-8, 9-12)
- Redistricting – altering the attendance boundaries for a neighborhood school zone. Resident students in redistricted areas will be zoned to a different school
- Choice options – education programs that families select other than the zoned school (e.g. transfers, magnet, application, charter)
- Expansion – offering more seats for an existing program in the district
- Closure – decommissioning a facility completely with no plan for future use
General P2G Questions
Q: What is the Pathway to Greatness (P2G) project?
- A plan that charts a path forward for OKCPS to improve the health of our system & equity for students
- A phased process to align OKCPS facilities & resources with instructional needs
- A community engagement process that informs and incorporates the voices of our families, students, staff and community
Oklahoma City Public Schools is committed to providing equitable access to a world class education so every OKCPS student will graduate ready to fulfill their unique purpose in a healthy, vibrant community.
To accomplish this, we launched Pathway to Greatness (P2G), an ambitious but natural next step in our journey that began with The Great Conversation which led to our district’s strategic plan, The Great Commitment.
Trends over time show that our enrollment is declining slightly and will likely level-off in the next couple of years. This means our share of state funding will decline, even if the overall funding level increases again. A comparison of the number of students we have enrolled and the amount of space in our school buildings shows that we are maintaining a lot of instructional space that we aren’t using, a choice that is directing resources to facilities instead of to our top priority: students.
The project, which began in January 2018, included a thorough assessment of all our facilities, a detailed demographic study, and input from our staff and our stakeholders - all of which have allowed us to reimagine how OKCPS will operate in the future.
The Board and our Superintendent believe that this work is critical to improve the health of the entire system and to provide equity for our students, maximizing our resources to provide “trade ups” that will expand high quality learning opportunities and supports for all of our students.
Q: Why is OKCPS launching this work now? OKCPS has done considerable work in the last few years to update our instructional practices, to collect and analyze data about long-term trends, and to stabilize our financial situation. Through these efforts, it became clear to the Board of Education that our district was primed and ready for a reinvention to take us to the next level. So, the Board and the Superintendent launched the Pathway to Greatness, an overall assessment of our facilities and programs, which is necessary to inform decisions that will move us forward. We know that:
- The status quo is not acceptable.
- Our past way of doing business has contributed to the problems we face.
- This is a district-wide problem that requires a district-wide solution.
- We must build on what is working and improve what is not working.
- It is time to create the future of education, not recreate the past.
Our top priority is to provide equitable learning opportunities that achieve our vision of every student graduating ready to fulfill their unique purpose in a healthy, vibrant community.
The Pathway to Greatness project is the next step on our journey that began with The Great Conversation and led to our District's strategic plan, The Great Commitment. The final deliverable will be a Long Range Facility Master Plan that will align with the collective vision for the future of OKCPS.
In order to give our students what they deserve and to offer equitable access to the services they need to be successful in the classroom and in life, OKCPS cannot continue to operate with over 25,000 vacant seats in our district. Those resources should be going to serve our students, not to maintain empty space.
Q: How does this work fit with OKCPS’ existing strategic plan, The Great Commitment? In 2015, over the course of 8 months, more than 1,200 students, parents, community members and district staff embarked on “The Great Conversation” to define what student success looks like for Oklahoma City Public Schools. Through our diverse voices, interests and commitment to student improvement, this community defined what is most important for our students and families.
From those discussions, OKCPS’ strategic plan -- The Great Commitment, Working Together As One - For all Students -- was created and approved by the Board of Education on June 25, 2015.
We believe that the Pathway to Greatness Project is the next step to follow through on our Great Commitment to our students and to our community.
Q: What principles have guided the decision-making for The Pathway to Greatness project? OKCPS leaders and those working on our committees used the following principles to guide their discussions and decision-making:
- We believe our top priority must be serving students equitably, rather than maintaining under-enrolled facilities.
- We believe families deserve high-quality educational opportunities in 21st century learning environments.
- We believe that racially and socioeconomically integrated schools are best for students.
- We believe that planning in consistent PK-12 feeder patterns and grade bands provides the best experience for students.
- We believe in keeping neighborhoods together.
- We believe that every district facility should be used for a positive community purpose.
Q: What is the process that will be used to guide this work?
OKCPS brought together two important teams - The Trailblazers and The Navigators - comprised of experts and voices from across our district to help us evaluate the data and reimagine what OKCPS will look like in the future. (See below for details on the focus and make-up of these committees)
We also worked closely with ADG, the firm that was hired to assist us with this project, as they summarized the information they gathered during their assessment of our 90+ OKCPS-owned facilities.
Meanwhile, detailed data points for each of the other criteria (see Question 5) are also being harvested by district and community leaders so that information can be considered in our decision-making as well.
In early November, we hosted our first series of Community Meetings to discuss the project in detail, to gather initial thoughts and to answer any lingering questions about the process or timeline.
In January 2019, the experts we have contracted to help with this project and our Navigators panel of community stakeholders developed three potential stand-alone solutions/pathways for OKCPS which were presented to the Board on January 22nd, followed by another round of Community Meetings.
In February, after incorporating the feedback of our stakeholders and discussions with the Navigators team of community stakeholders the Superintendent selected a Final Path, which he presented to the Board on February 21. The Board will vote on the Superintendent’s final recommendation on March 4, 2019.
Q: Who will be involved in the decision-making? Our superintendent has created two teams who have been providing leadership in defining our desired instructional program and the vision for implementing it as we move through the process with the guidance of our Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer.
Committee #1 - OKCPS Trailblazers - The OKCPS Trailblazers is comprised of voices from across our district, across the span of grades we serve, across the content areas, and across the many points of diversity that make up our district team. This team of experts will work together to develop a set of educational recommendations to operationalize our mission to ignite a passion for learning in every child. Their topics of discussion will include (but are not limited to):
- Grade bands
- Grade-level/school size
- School start/end times
- Essential core offerings
- Specialty or signature programming
- Student supports
- Choice options
This team began having weekly meetings in September and is made up of:
- 8 teacher volunteers
- 4 school administrator volunteers
- 3 central administration leaders
- Facilitator – OKCPS Chief of Staff
Committee #2 - OKCPS Navigators
This diverse group of community leaders will evaluate and give input on visions presented from the work of the Trailblazers & ADG. Then they ultimately will make a recommendation for one best option to Superintendent McDaniel in February.
Topics of discussion for this group include:
- Demographics and facilities data
- ADG/OKCPS Trailblazer recommendations
- Evaluation of presented visions
- Community engagement
This team will begin their bi-weekly meetings in October and is made up of:
- 8 OKCPS BOE appointees
- 1 Co-chair appointed by Board Chair & Supt
- 4 district staff appointed by Superintendent
- 7 community leaders appointed by Superintendent
- Co-chair – OKCPS Chief Operating Officer
It is important to note that OKCPS Board Members and our Superintendent are not named to these committees. We hope this will provide an environment where our other experts and stakeholders can openly voice their thoughts and opinions as we work toward a final recommendation.
The Navigators will recommend a single path to the Superintendent in mid-February. Then the Superintendent will bring his final recommendation forward to the Board of Education on February 21st, and our Board will vote on March 4th.
Q: What factors were considered in the Pathway to Greatness? Our consultant, ADG, conducted extensive research over the past several months to fulfill the Board’s request for evaluation of 10 criteria as they pertain to OKCPS facilities. The data, which were released last fall, were based on direction provided by the OKCPS Board of Education in their D-12 policy set in July 2018.
The data, together with community input gathered from multiple surveys, thousands of comments submitted through our website, and six community meetings, served as a starting point for discussions with our Navigators (community representatives), Trailblazers (education experts) and District leadership. In January, three paths were born out of those data-informed discussions with guidance on feasibility from our consultants. After another round of stakeholder feedback, a Final Path was recommended on February 21st.
In addition to input from our stakeholders, these items were strongly considered in our path creation:
- Analyze data generated from Board Policy D-12 Criteria
- Keep students from each elementary together through middle and high school
- Meet recommendations for grade bands and school sizes, where possible
- Maximize the use of existing facilities
- Eliminate use of portable classrooms, if possible
- Include some room for transfers and potential growth in school capacities
- Protect cultural diversity of schools
- Acknowledge and address demographic and cultural changes to schools
- Expand access to District-run choice options in each region of the district
- Keep neighborhoods together, where possible
Q: What is the Final Path that has been recommended by the Superintendent? The Final Path calls for 15 schools to close for repurposing.
These decisions were made after a deep look at the data to inform the process, and we are already working on plans to ensure that we have a positive community purpose for all of these buildings that will close to be repurposed.
To accommodate more consistent grade bands across the district, a set of elementary schools will now shift to begin housing middle school programs. OKCPS will also reconfigure our existing mid-high schools to house only 9th to 12th grades.
The exception to these consistent grade bands is the Star Spencer feeder pattern in which all communities currently zoned to Star Spencer High School will begin attending school together from Pre-K. The grade bands in the Star Spencer feeder pattern will enable larger teams of teachers to collaborate, more learning opportunities for students, and families to build strong relationships over time. Unfortunately, the sizes of the facilities in the area do not lend themselves to alignment with the grade bands recommended by the Trailblazers committee. To provide increased opportunities for students in Star Spencer High School, it will be reconfigured into a 7-12, bringing enrollment and more teachers for our students. The Star Spencer grade bands will be Pre-K-1, 2-3, 4-6, and 7-12.
Our data also suggested that several schools needed to find a new home through this process, as well. We made it a priority to find a district-owned space on the southside for Emerson South, a district alternative program, which is currently housed in leased space. The transition of FD Moon to house middle school requires a new location for KIPP Reach. Also, facility assessments of two buildings currently housing charter schools, the former Polk ES and Harding MS buildings, indicate that these buildings are too costly to maintain and repair. We plan to work with these existing schools to find a new -- hopefully nicer -- home in one of our vacated buildings. It is important to note that none of the programs slated for relocation will close; they will simply be moved to another building.
Q: How are school boundaries going to change as a result of these paths? Before the end of March, OKCPS will provide an online “school locator” tool which will allow families to determine assigned school and feeder pattern by entering their home address.
Q: What is the estimated number of students to be enrolled in each school for the Final Path? How did you allow for future growth? In each segment of the district, we adjusted our capacity targets for each facility based upon projections of future enrollment growth. For example, to prepare for potential population growth on the Southside of the city, the targeted capacity of each building was reduced by 15 percent below its maximum capacity to allow for growth.
In schools with high transfer populations, the Final Path adds regional Pre-K classes to two of our planned early childhood centers (Birth-to-3) at Johnson and Horace Mann. This will allow us to move to a limited number of Pre-K classes in these schools to accommodate a larger number of transfer seats for existing transfer students. As the existing transfer students phase out of the schools, we may be able to move these pre-K classes back to the neighborhood schools over time.
Q: What scoring method was used to decide which schools to close? Utilizing a data-informed process rather than a data-driven process, many factors went into developing these three paths. This holistic review included a common-sense mix of the 10 criteria which were provided by ADG as defined by OKCPS Board Policy D-12, community input and experience, wisdom from experts and leadership, and feasibility. In addition to the 10 criteria, the Guiding Principles for Pathways to Greatness were also constantly referenced in the data-informed decision-making process and influenced choices where possible. No formal scoring system was used.
Q: What kind of “trade ups” will students see as a result of this work? We believe that our Pathway to Greatness work will allow us to deepen our investment in serving students, provide greater equity across our District, and increase student achievement.
There will be more learning opportunities as resources are put into our classrooms in the form of art, music and PE teachers. There will be added support staff to assist principals and teachers deliver a better and higher quality educational experience, including additional counselors and other social supports to assist our kids with issues that challenge them outside the school building. Many of our repurposed buildings will be filled with community partners ready to support our kids with after school programming and services for the entire family.
Here is a list of the standard Trade-Ups that all schools will enjoy, as well as those specific to each path:
- Core staffing trade-ups
- Transformation schools
- Consistent grade bands & feeder patterns
- New school sizes support culture-building, relationships and collaboration
- Increased social & emotional supports (Embrace OKC)
- More electives / course offerings
- Increased access to school nurses
Q: What is a “Transformation School”? We are excited about the enhanced opportunities our students will experience across the District, but this strategy wouldn’t be complete without a deeper focus on our most fragile schools. Not only is this called for by our Board’s commitment to equity, but it is also imperative that we focus on our highest need schools in order to address critical opportunity and learning gaps that will allow all boats to rise across the district.
We have been learning from other similar districts that have been investing in school turnaround (Baltimore, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, etc) to develop our plan.
In many cases, schools with the greatest needs have less experienced leaders and teachers. Knowing the impact that an experienced principal and teachers can have on student success, OKCPS will focus on identifying strong leaders and teacher leaders for these schools. Building a great team is a necessary first step to improving our highest-need schools. Once we identify the leaders and teams to serve these schools, we’ll work through a tailored strategy to improve each. The Innovative Transformation Schools will engage in focused professional development to build a School Transformation Plan, develop high-impact goals, and provide Leadership and Instructional Coaching to support dramatic improvements for all students.
Q: What is changing for the OKCPS Application Schools as a result of P2G? OKCPS is staying to true to one of our Guiding Principles, which was to build on what is working, by expanding the capacity of our successful application schools. We are also pleased that now our families will have access to one of these choice options in all areas of our District. OKCPS will reserve seats for each feeder school in order to balance enrollment, enable planning & promote equity.
Here’s a breakdown of the expansion:
- Expand Belle Isle to serve more students
- West Nichols Hills will be home to Belle Isle 5th-6th grade
- Belle Isle will be home to their 7th-8th grade
- Repurpose Parmelee ES to become Southeast Middle School and serve as the feeder middle school for Southeast High School housing 5th-8th grade
- Southeast High School to expand enrollment
- Divide Classen SAS into middle school and high school campuses and expand to serve more students
- Current Classen SAS Middle School will be home to 5th-8th grade
- Current Northeast building will be home to Classen SAS High School’s 9th-12th grade
The application processes will remain similar, featuring a holistic review of students’ readiness to be successful in the school’s course of study; however, adjustments will be made to applications for rising 5th grade students to ensure they are age-appropriate, the timeline will be reopened in early March, and the deadlines extended. We encourage all students interested in studies in these programs to apply. Students currently attending application programs (including Northeast Academy students who wish to attend Classen SAS) will automatically be enrolled for next year. Details will be shared with our families as soon as possible.
Q: When will these trade-ups and new programs be available to students? All trade-ups and new programs will begin with the 2019-20 school year. In future years, additional trade-ups and programs will be planned, based on capacity and facilities.
Q: Why did OKCPS choose to change grade bands to PK-4th grade, 5th-8th grade, & 9th-12th grade?
- This was a recommendation that came from our Trailblazers Committee (a diverse district-wide team of teachers, school leaders, and central office leaders) as they believe that our school structures should provide students and teachers with consistency and opportunities to build positive culture in developmentally appropriate environments.
- P2G allows us to create a consistent approach to grade bands for all 3 paths, with the exception of our Spencer feeder pattern where we have a smaller number of students.
- Our existing mid-high concept has not been something our families were fond of, and lack of consistency creates a challenge for the District operationally.
- Research clearly indicates that allowing our students, families and staff to have 4 years together allows them time to build a strong school culture and leads to stronger relationships between staff and students, as well as within our employee teams.
Middle school is a very difficult time for all students developmentally, and this model allows us to provide concentrated supports where they may be needed most. These supports will come from within the District, as well as via partnerships stemming from our EmbraceOKC initiative.
- The 5 through 8 model will allow us to support students with a transitional program that provides more supportive schedules in 5th and 6th grades with teachers who are strong content experts and limited class changes during the day. As students transition to the 7th and 8th grades, they will be able to experience greater independence and schedules with more class changes while still being in a supportive environment with a stable culture.
- The middle school model also provides students with access to more programs and electives much sooner. One example of this is 6th grade athletics where currently only 1 in 5 6th grade students have access to sports; and with this shift all 6th graders will now have access.
- Research shows that students who are engaged in specialty programs or curriculum such as athletics, arts, and clubs, are much more likely to have good attendance, make good grades, and stay in school through graduation. We are excited to be able to expose them to these programs much earlier through our middle school model.
- OKCPS enrollment could increase with vibrant, challenging opportunities for our 5th-8th graders in middle school.
- It is important to note that this new configuration will cause boundary changes for every school, so our families need to pay close attention to the new zoning maps. The need for more middle schools also impacted what our options were as we started to redesign the district as we needed buildings that were big enough to handle a large number of middle school students.
Q: How does P2G impact the district’s average school size?
- Before P2G: Elementary schools range in size from 170 to 901 students. Our secondary schools range from 262 to 1907.
- After P2G: Elementary schools will range from 406 to 803, and secondary will range from 502 to 1458
Note that one reason a consensus was reached that the Final Path was the best option for the district was that it was the path to having the most schools within the ideal school size as recommended by our Trailblazers team.
Q: How does a larger average school size translate into better academic outcomes?
- Teacher Teams
- Research shows that grade level teams of 3 or more members allow for greater collaboration, increased instructional consistency across classrooms and opportunities to improve teaching practices.
- With many schools currently with less than optimal enrollment, our average school sizes (especially elementary schools) had to increase to provide at least 3 teachers at a single grade level.
- As part of ADG’s review of building size, it was important to determine which sites would have room for additional enrollment.
- Imagine being a new teacher, who may even be emergency certified, and you are the only 1st grade teacher in your building. In 39% of our schools currently, there are grade levels with only one teacher. These teachers have no one to plan with and no one to observe on how to improve teaching practices. After P2G, no teachers will be alone, and every school should have 3 or more teachers on a grade level team. This means, our teachers will have support and improved collaboration at every grade level.
- More Course Offerings, Electives & After School Options
- Larger student populations also allow for more course offerings, electives and after-school programs when more staff are concentrated in one location to teach those classes and sponsor/manage special programs.
Class Size / Student Population
Q: If the decision is made to consolidate schools, will it result in larger class sizes? Average class sizes (teacher staffing ratios) will decrease for grades K through 6 in every pathway, with an even larger decrease for 3rd and 4th grade in Plan C.
Q: Will this also mean more school leaders and support staff? (APs, athletic coaches, Child Nutrition staff, front office clerks) Because our elementary schools will be larger, on average, under each of the three pathways, we anticipate increases in the number of assistant principals and support staff who support schools like front office clerks. This will be true for the many positions that schools earn based on their student enrollment (e.g. Counselors, School Librarians).
Q: How many schools are being closed? In the Final Path, 15 schools will discontinue operation, and the communities they serve will be redistricted into other schools.
As stated, OKCPS and ADG considered a variety of different data points to refine these plans, and there are some things that you see in common among these schools. Many of the elementaries are very small facilities that aren’t big enough to get close to our ideal minimum school size. Others are quite old and have major repairs that would be extremely costly to bring up to par. In the case of Centennial, it is one of our newer buildings, but it is in a sparsely populated area, so in the northern part of the district using John Marshall as the high school makes more sense because of its location and proximity to more students’ homes.
It is important to note that the buildings that will be closed and repurposed are located across the District, not concentrated on one particular area. This reflects that the teams have looked deeply into the data to inform the process and that this truly represents a District-wide reinvention. We are already working on plans to ensure that we have a positive community purpose for all of the buildings which are slated to close and be repurposed. We hope to launch that work very soon after our Board votes to move forward with P2G.
Q: If the decision is made to move students out of a particular school/building, what will happen to the building? What will OKCPS do with the empty buildings? One of our guiding principles is that we believe that all OKCPS facilities should be used for a positive community purpose. If buildings are planned to stop operating as school or district facilities, our teams of community members will make recommendations for uses that meet the needs of the impacted communities. The District is actively working with partners to repurpose schools quickly and effectively to add value in the community. We hope this process may bring new options for student enrichment and support, community health and social services, development, and green spaces to buildings that are no longer needed as schools.
Other school buildings may be repurposed to serve a different grade band. For instance, an elementary school building may become a middle school.
In the Final Path, we propose closing two facilities where students are currently being served and relocating those schools to other buildings. Those schools are Harding Fine Arts/Harding Charter Prep and Seeworth South (Polk).
Q: Why do those two schools need to be closed/surplused?
These facilities were assessed by a team of experts documenting deficiencies (such as structural, mechanical, electrical, architectural, civil considerations) in the condition of the facility. Cost estimates were prepared from the information gathered by ADG and, at this time, we do not believe the condition of the facilities is conducive to keeping students there. OKCPS wants all of our students to be in safe facilities that provide the best possible educational environment.
Nothing has been finalized, but the District is actively working with the Harding Fine Arts/Charter Prep and Seeworth South school leaders to identify alternate facilities that will better meet their educational needs.
Q: If buildings occupied by charter schools close, where will those students be relocated? Schools of choice, including charters, are part of the solution for offering quality educational options to OKCPS families. All district buildings were evaluated by ADG, including those leased to charters. OKCPS will use this information along with other data points as we continue to work alongside our charter partners to define how they should fit into the district’s long term strategy, including our facilities and bond plan. We are committed to helping our impacted charter partners work through relocation. Here is a tentative list of relocation sites for impacted schools. https://www.okcps.org/pathwayproject
Q: What criteria were used to make decisions about the future of a specific facility? OKCPS Board Policy D-12 for Facilities Master Planning clearly outlines the criteria to be measured for evaluating schools during the process of master planning:
- Demographics – actual and projected enrollment trends
- Utilization Rate – enrollment trends vs school capacity
- Academic Performance – student achievement trends
- Physical Plant – building condition, amenities, efficiency
- Location – proximity to other schools, natural barriers
- Program Considerations – educational offerings
- Community Services – neighborhood role of school
- Safety – facility hazards and surrounding area crime activity
- Legal Restrictions – contractual or bond constraint
- Bottom-line Impact – estimated financial results
Our teams worked closely with ADG to capture detailed data points for each of these criteria, and we shared that information with the Board and our stakeholders as we moved through the process.
Q: What exactly did ADG do when they assessed each facility? This summer, our Board approved ADG to move forward with a comprehensive assessment of all of our 90+ OKCPS-owned facilities. As part of this, ADG will gather and utilize structural information, as well as a detailed demographic study, and input from our staff and our stakeholders to help OKCPS reimagine how we will operate in the future.
OKCPS is using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to cover the cost of ADG’s work instead of taking it from our general fund. It is important to note that unlike general funds, TIF funding cannot be used for things like teacher salaries, textbook purchases, etc.
We are very grateful to have a trusted, experienced 3rd party assisting us with this important work.
Q: Can OKCPS sell or rent the empty buildings? There is already extensive interest from partners regarding possible new uses for our former schools buildings. Some of these include:
- Relocation of Harding Charter Prep (currently at Harding)
- Relocation of Harding Fine Arts (currently at Harding)
- Relocation of KIPP Reach (currently at Moon)
- Relocation of Seeworth South (currently at Polk)
- OKCPS Student Welcome/Enrollment Center
- City/County Health Community Health Center 1
- City/County Health Community Health Center 2
- Temporary space for administrative offices
- Early Childhood Center 1
- Early Childhood Center 2
- Early Childhood Center 3
- Early Childhood Center 4
- Retained for strategic growth/temporary relocation site
- Retained for strategic growth/temporary relocation site
- Retained for strategic growth/temporary relocation site
- Request for Interest to solicit neighborhood-based partners
Q: Will there be a process to buy/rent empty OKCPS buildings? What will the process be like? State law governs the options OKCPS has for finding new purposes for our unused school buildings. Leases with partners that make these buildings cost-neutral to the district are one option. Public sale processes are another option. Please note that the Oklahoma State Constitution prohibits gifts of public funds and property, so giving buildings away, selling them for less than fair market value, or subsidizing them for use by outside entities is not legal. As of February 19, there has already been extensive interest from more than thirty (30) partners regarding possible new uses for our former schools buildings. Anyone interested may contact Scott Randall, OKCPS Chief Operations Officer, at 405-587-0185 or by email at: email@example.com.
Q: What will happen to all the equipment, resources, supplies and furniture at the closing schools? All of the students currently attending schools that will be closed are moving to other schools. All equipment, resources, supplies and furniture will be moved to accommodate students in their new zoned schools. Any surplus items may be disposed of according to legal requirements and board policy.
Q: What if my building was slated to have a renovation, repairs or new construction as part of a previously-approved bond? Will that move forward or not? All projects that are currently in motion will move forward. OKCPS will also proceed with any safety/health or other general maintenance issues that are necessary to maintain a safe, stable school learning environment for our students and staff. However, while we are moving through the remainder of P2G, all other projects, repairs and bond upgrades are being put on hold pending the outcome of the Board’s decision on March 4. After March 4, projects in buildings that will stay open will be evaluated and proceed as planned. Plans for remaining projects in the 2016 bond will be adjusted as allowed for by law to meet the needs of the new school designs, such as increasing wireless bandwidth in our new intermediate/middle schools.
Q: How will OKCPS honor the history of buildings that will be closed or repurposed? We will work together with families, alumni and the existing school community to honor the legacy of impacted schools.
Q: Will reconfigured schools be retrofitted to accommodate the new grade band? Yes, before the 2019-2020 schools year begins, any necessary changes will be made such as replacing Pre-K-sized toilets and sinks in an elementary school facility being reconfigured into a middle school. We estimate that only 12 of our 57 schools will require modifications.
Q: What happens if the population grows where you are closing schools, and you suddenly need a school again? The facility utilization rate after P2G is estimated to be about 84% -- this will provide us with ample space to grow in our new footprint. We also do not plan to sell many of the closed schools. By leasing these buildings, we will have more flexibility to reclaim the facility for District use in the future if needed. Through potential bond elections in future years, OKCPS could also explore constructing school buildings and facilities that best serve the community.
Q: What role does state funding play in closing schools? State funding for education has been (and will continue to be) a big issue affecting schools in Oklahoma, and OKCPS will continue to fight for increases in funding for schools at the legislature. However, the Pathway Project is not primarily about the amount of funding we are receiving from the state--it is about aligning our resources with our values. In addition to underfunding, there is a long history in OKCPS of kicking the can down the road on difficult, but necessary, decisions for a generation.
For decades, we have been maintaining tens of thousands of empty seats--meaning resources that could be going to serve students are going to heating, air conditioning, and inequitable staffing. This is true regardless of the state’s decisions about funding levels, and this transparent, comprehensive process is designed to shift our priorities where they belong -- with children. We also follow trends over time which show that OKCPS enrollment is declining slightly and will likely level-off in the next couple of years. Not only does it mean that it is time to shift away from operating half-empty buildings, but it also means that our share of state funding will decline, even if the overall funding level increases again.
Q: How will the change in school configurations impact the state and federal funding that OKCPS currently receives? Will it go up or down? State and federal funding is determined by the number of students we serve and the characteristics of our student body. We believe that combining schools into healthier school sizes will allow us to make the resources we earn go farther by ensuring, for example, that every student has access to a school counselor 5 days a week rather than today, where many small schools have a counselor only one day a week.
Q: Some schools slated to be closed were renovated by MAPS for Kids dollars. How will you ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted when students move out to other buildings? Any facilities that close will be repurposed into community centers or other neighborhood-enhancing facilities. The investment made through MAPS for Kids will still serve OKC residents and families in a positive way and help us in our goal to create equity and incorporate much-needed trade-ups for our students.
Q: How will the District guide schools through the transition of blending populations/cultures? Research shows this is one of the most important pieces of a successful district reinvention.
Once a final path is selected, there will be a lot of logistics to manage, but moving books, records, and technology are just one piece of this reinvention. The District will work with merging schools to develop transition plans which might include things like Open Houses for students, families & staff, team building opportunities for our staff and PTA leadership, and combined end-of-year activities for the students. We will also evaluate whether or not a rebrand is needed as schools combine. It’s important to remember that children are resilient, and at the end of the day, blending our communities into schools with healthier enrollment numbers will provide more opportunities for families to collaborate and will make OKCPS stronger. New school boundaries will mean neighbors coming together in new ways to support their schools, and I hope that our communities will embrace the opportunities and possibilities that the Pathway to Greatness offers.
Q: What is your message to families who are concerned with how P2G will affect their students? Regardless of the outcome of Pathway to Greatness, I hope that our families will come together to champion strong schools, whether that is in their current building or in a new location. A strong community of parents and other stakeholders working together is essential for our students, our schools and our city to thrive. Educators can't do it alone. It will take a village.
Although the next few months will be hard and change is certain, the Board and I are confident that this work is necessary to improve the health of the entire OKCPS system and to provide equity and opportunity for our students. Now more than ever, we must all come together and focus on the future. Our students deserve it and our city's long-term success depends on it.
OKCPS will continue to serve every child. This renewal and reinvention process is vital to our schools becoming the centers of learning that our students, families and staff deserve.
We must continue to have open-minded, engaged families and community members with us at every step in this process in order to create the best possible future for all OKCPS students. As our teachers and our community proved last Spring, we are truly stronger together.
New school boundaries will mean neighbors coming together in new ways to support their schools, and I hope that our communities will embrace the opportunities and possibilities that the Pathway to Greatness offers.
Q: What is the estimated cost for Trade-Ups? Where do those funds come from? The estimated costs for the Trades-Ups range between $4 - $6 million. The funding for the Trade-Ups comes from the recurring (year-after-year) savings as a result of P2G. We will now spend those recurring savings on recurring costs to benefit our students. For example, when we close a school some positions (like a principal) and utilities, custodial, repairs and maintenance are eliminated. These recurring savings will now being reinvested into a NEW recurring costs such as Trade-Ups, which include additional teachers, counselors or nurses.
Q: What is the estimated cost for implementation of P2G’s Final Path in order to ensure schools are ready to host students on August 12 for first day of school? Where do those funds come from? The estimated costs for implementation of P2G for “Day One” school readiness is approximately $32M. These costs include improvements to our school sites (bathroom updates, athletic, special education and fine art classroom needs) as well as playgrounds and recreation areas, new buses and mobile science labs for example. The District is able to use our 2007 and 2016 bond funds for these one-time implementation costs.
Q: How does the previously projected $11M shortfall factor into the Pathway to Greatness plan? Is P2G part of the solution for this shortfall? P2G is an opportunity to ensure that the District is using all financial resources as efficiently as possible and for the maximum benefit of our students and families. As the state school funding continues to fall short of state mandates and critical classroom needs, P2G determined that many school facilities were not only operating in an inefficient manner, but were also negatively impacting the education and equitable environment for many of our students. Over a year ago, using the FY2018 formula funding information, a funding reduction of $11M was estimated for the three year period (FY2019, FY2020, FY2021) as a result of projected reductions in the District’s enrollment.
Prior to the end of FY2018, the legislation passed historic legislation which resulted in a significant increase of formula funding which is designated (but not restricted) to provide certified and support staff with legislatively mandated salary increases. District’s formula funding increased by over $20M.
As of the District’s mid-year financial reporting in December 2018, the District is projected to maintain the targeted 8% fund balance at year-end. The District has been successful in responding to and addressing the financial impact of reduced enrollment and will continue monitor. The current formula funding reductions are estimated to be less than 1% of total projected revenues.
Timeline / Next Steps
Q: What is the timeline for this project? This process must move quickly so we are in a position for our Board of Education to make a decision in March 2019. This will allow OKCPS to have the time needed to finalize our plans for the 2019-20 school year. View Timeline
Q: How can I stay informed and contribute to the process as the project moves along? As we move forward on this Pathway to Greatness, OKCPS is committed to keeping you updated on our progress. We will continue to share information on website, on social media, and as a standing topic for our monthly Board of Education Business Meetings.
Change is certain, and we want our families and community to be informed. At these meetings, we will share plans for improved services, instructional opportunities, and how the new OKCPS will be able to better serve your children.
Data and feedback from a variety of stakeholders has been very valuable to this work. As always, our District leadership can be reached by:
- Email our Board of Education
- Email the Superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or, if you have a specific question or comment, we invite you to share it with us on our website. Suggestion/Comment Box
Q: What is the timeline for implementation? This process must move quickly so we are in a position for our Board of Education to make a decision on March 4, 2019. This will allow OKCPS to have the time needed to finalize our plans for the 2019-20 school year.
Q: How will P2G impact transportation for my child? Transportation will still be provided to all students who live outside of the 1.5 miles radius of their school. That said, we do expect an increase in the number of bus routes. Hiring bus drivers is a District and statewide issue. OKCPS recently increased pay in an effort to boost recruiting efforts and will aggressively be recruiting drivers between now and next school year. Details regarding changes to routes, bus stop locations or times, etc are still pending. We will provide that information before our students leave for Summer Break.
Q: How will P2G impact student transfers? The OKCPS Board of Education approved a new Transfer Policy on January 14, 2019. (LINK TO POLICY). This new Transfer policy was developed to ensure a standard, equitable, centralized transfer process that incorporates input from principals/administration at each site to make enrollment projections more predictable and accurate from year to year. The new policy recommends that once approved, students are assured a seat in that school for the duration....and special consideration for siblings. This creates much more stability for our families and students.
It is important that our families review this carefully. Here are a few things we’d like to highlight:
- Some students currently on transfer to a school may now be zoned to that school so no transfer would be needed.
- Exceptions / Prioritization:
- Students currently in a school on a transfer that is remaining open will be grandfathered in IF they are rising 4th graders for elementary, rising 8th graders for middle, and rising 11th & 12th graders for high school.
- Children of school-based staff will be treated like residents of the school where their parent/guardian works.
- Transfer applications will be accepted through a district process, and the central office will work with principals to determine the spaces available once there is a final path. After the final Path is approved, transfer applications and timeline for submitting those will be released.
- Parents who wish to transfer their student to a different school if they do not believe the assigned school is the best fit will need to submit transfer applications during the timeline to be released after the final Path is approved. Applications will be due in mid-April.
- We hope all families will receive information about approved transfers before the end of the school year.
Q: How will numbers of transfer spaces available at a school site be determined? Transfer spaces available will be determined by the following formula: Enrollment Capacity - Attendance zone enrolled = Number of Transfer spaces by grade
Q: How will Pathway to Greatness impact the District’s Special Education programs? All sites will continue to offer services for special education students - Lab Class, Speech, OT/PT, etc. The self-contained programs will be located in close proximity to their previous locations. For example,
- Two Multiple Disability (MD) classrooms from Johnson ES will move to Ridgeview ES (.7 miles)
- Two Multiple Disability (MD) classrooms from Rancho Village will move to Van Buren ES. (.5 miles)
- Wheelchair-accessible playgrounds will be built at both schools using 2016 Bond Funds.
All specific needs of our special education students are documented in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Students will continue to receive all serviced outlined in their plans. The district will also provide special considerations in the employee transfer process to ensure teachers and paraprofessionals serving self-contained special education classes may be able to move with the students to their new sites.
All transportation needs documented in a student's IEP will be provided.
Questions related to Special Education should be directed to Erin Trussell, Director of Special Education, (405-587-0424 OR 405-587-0447) or by email at email@example.com.
Q: What will happen to 5th & 6th Grade students who have been part of the Summit Personalized Learning Program at elementary schools that are being closed or reconfigured as PK-4?
Elementary students (current 5th & 6th graders) participating in the Summit Learning program will feed into middle schools with existing Summit programs. Wheeler Middle School will be added to the OKCPS’ Summit Learning so current incoming students can continue this program.
Information about current schools participating in Summit Learning can be found on the Oklahoma City Public Schools website.
Q: Will elementary schools that have participated in the Summit Personalized Learning Program (currently only 5th & 6th grades) be able to continue to participate when reconfigured to a PK-4 school? Yes. OKCPS is already working with the Summit Team to implement the Summit Personalized Learning Program with 4th grade students in those current Summit sites for the 2019-2020 school year.
Q: How will P2G impact summer programs, such as summer school? Due to needed equipment and resources movement during the summer for elementary schools (those that remain as PK-4 or reconfigured as 5-8 MS), summer school programs will be suspended this summer only. However, additional learning opportunities will be provided.
Grade-specific literacy packs will be sent home for all K-6th grade elementary school students at the end of the school year. These packs include reading books, writing resources and learning opportunities for students to work through at home during the summer. Limited Middle School summer opportunities will be offered off-site for students with the greatest needs. Credit Recovery courses for high school students will be offered at two high school sites this summer.
Q: I am worried about putting my child on the school bus. Are OKCPS school buses safe? Research shows that the school bus is the safest way for students to get to school -- safer than walking, riding a bike, or being driven in a car. OKCPS school buses are driven by trained bus drivers, and many also have a bus monitor riding the bus to support positive student behavior. All buses are equipped with video cameras used to monitor safety and security of students.
Q: Will school start times change for the 2019-20 school year? No, we plan to use the year ahead to carefully study and plan for a possible shift in start times. The Trailblazers Committee has studied decades of research that suggests that our early high school start times are bad for adolescent students’ ability to learn, and we plan to continue to study this issue for a potential change for the 2020-2021 school year.
That said, we are still considering standardizing start times by grade bands so the start time could change for seven late-start elementary schools and Classen SAS HS. Details will be shared with families as soon as a decision is made.
Q: If the decision is made to consolidate schools, will it result in a Reduction In Force (RIF) for OKCPS? OKCPS is committed to doing everything we can to protect the employment of all of our teammates. Resources will be needed where our students are re-assigned, and we expect that there will be some positions that will increase in number (like Assistant Principals) and some positions that will decrease in number (like Principals). The final projected enrollments for the selected pathway as well as natural attrition will determine where we have overages in current positions. Based on past experience, we expect to have a placement for all returning staff members in good standing, though some may have to shift into a different type of role based on the needs of our students and schools. Each of our Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) contains information about how we handle reassignments and reductions-in-force. The CBAs can be found on the district’s website under the Human Resources Department’s page.
Q: Pathway To Greatness seems to be focused on a restructure of our schools. Will there also be any restructuring of the Central Office? Yes. As we move through this process, all district resources will ultimately be realigned to meet the needs of our students. This includes buildings, teaching staff, technology, school boundaries and many other elements. The same will be true of Central Office, as this team’s mission is to support our students and our schools. The plan for Central Office restructuring will be finalized after the selection of a final path--the Central Office must be designed to respond to the needs of schools.
Q: What will happen to faculty and staff at a facility that is closing? OKCPS is committed to do everything we possibly can to protect the employment of all of our teammates. We will follow the rules outlined in each of our employee groups’ Collective Bargaining Agreements for each of our groups - Support, Teachers & Administrators - to reassign staff to available positions. The overarching goal is to provide the best team for every school across the district.
On January 14, the Board voted to approve a resolution that outlines an early retirement incentive program for eligible District building administrations (ERIPA). As OKCPS moves forward with our Pathway to Greatness project, we know change is certain, and we are pleased to bring forward this opportunity to honor and appreciate the service of our Principals and Assistant Principals while also working to avoid a Reduction In Force if at all possible. The ERIPA is available for consideration by building administrators who are eligible to retire through the Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System (OTRS). The District is offering an incentive of $8,000 to principals and $5,000 to assistant principals to participate in the ERIPA and will do so in a way that also increases the administrator’s retirement benefit.
Volunteers & Partnerships
Q: What will happen to individuals who used to serve as volunteers at closing schools? Will they have the opportunity to volunteer at a new school? Yes, we love our volunteers! The great news is that the volunteer application process flows through our Foundation and OKCPS Community Relations office and your volunteer background check is valid at all OKCPS schools. We hope you will consider shifting your volunteer service to the new school of the students you serve -- the more friendly and familiar faces our students see, the easier these transitions will be for them! Please continue serving at your current location for the remainder of this school year. None of these changes will happen until the 2019-2020 school year.
Q: What will happen to community partners who had a relationship with closing or repurposed schools? Will they be assigned a new school? Will they have the opportunity to select what school to be a partner at? We will work hand and hand with our community partners to place them at a new location. No matter what building our students are in they need the help and support fo our community partners and volunteers. We will be reaching out to active partners in the following 30 to 60 days. Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Q: What will happen to Partners In Action (PIA) projects at closing or repurposed schools? Depending on what the project is, projects will be transported to the relocated school or will remain at the repurposed school for use by the neighborhood and community.