OKC district teachers await fate if school board approves closure plan
Hundreds of teachers in the Oklahoma City district will be shuffled in the coming year if the school board approves a plan to close 15 schools and reconfigure or relocate 17 others when it meets Monday night.
The board is expected to approve Superintendent Sean McDaniel's recommendation when it meets at 5:30 p.m. at Northeast Academy, 3100 N Kelley.
McDaniel has pledged to "reinvent" the district by aligning facilities and resources with instructional needs. To do that, the district will find other uses for closed buildings, convert six elementary schools into middle schools, relocate four charter schools and disband the district's mid-high model.
The plan includes changes to school boundaries, grade structures and feeder patterns. If approved, thousands of students will attend a different school beginning Aug. 12, the first day of the 2019-20 school year.
They won't be alone.
Ed Allen, president of the union that bargains with Oklahoma City Public Schools on behalf of 2,500 teachers, said a minimum of 500 teachers will be moving to a different building in the coming year, either because of closures or relocation or changes to a school's grade structure. Allen said hundreds more could be moving to a different classroom when the district adds classes and teachers to boost building utilization rates.
"I'm anticipating that about 50 percent of teachers who are staying in a building will be getting a new room," he said Friday. Allen is working with the district to iron out details of the transition plan for teachers.
According to Jason Brown, assistant superintendent of human resources, returning teachers will have to wait until mid-April to find out where they'll be assigned in the coming year, while those without continuing contracts won't be placed until the staffing needs of each building are determined and all returning teachers are assigned.
"I can assure you that we will have plenty of positions available for next school year," Brown wrote in a letter to about 820 teachers who are considered temporary employees until they complete four full semesters. "We anticipate that teachers on a non-continuing contract will be able to be rehired or invited to apply for open positions by mid-April."
While teachers, principals and support staff wait to learn their fate, opponents of the reorganization plan sought to have their voices heard Friday.
A group of local education advocates and community members calling themselves the Alliance for Better Community Schools, called on McDaniel to delay implementation of the plan during a new conference outside Northeast Academy. At Linwood Elementary, a school on the closure list, concerned parents met with McDaniel and several board members. Also Friday, an Oklahoma County judge rejected a man’s legal effort to block the reorganization plan. The plaintiff had asked for an injunction, complaining the plan is designed "to cripple" the African-American community.