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Horace Mann Elementary is one of 15 schools in the Oklahoma City district recommended for closing.

Oklahoma City proposal calls for closing at least 13 schools

District, which is operating facilities at 60 percent capacity, seeks greater efficiency.

The Oklahoma City school district has unveiled a wide-ranging facilities plan that calls for closing at least 13 schools.

The Oklahoman reports that the "Pathway to Greatness" plan put forth by Superintendent Sean McDaniel is an effort to better align the district's facilities and resources with instructional needs.

McDaniel presented three ways to accomplish that goal, but regardless of which plan the school board approves, a minimum of 13 schools would be shuttered before the start of the 2019-20 school year.

"It is disruptive, and we know that," McDaniel says. "But we balanced that out with the good things that we are bringing back to our schools. We know that we are influencing the life of every child. While difficult, and I know it is, I'm comfortable with the process and I believe in the outcome."

Overall, as many as 18 schools that could be closed and used for other purposes.

All three versions of the plan identify 12 elementary schools recommended for closing: Edgemere, Edwards, Gatewood, Green Pastures, Horace Mann, Johnson, Oakridge, Pierce, Putnam Heights, Rancho Village, Sequoyah, and North Highland. Oklahoma Centennial Mid-High also would close.

Beyond those 13 campuses, other schools were recommended for closing in one or more of the proposals: Hawthorne, Linwood, Shidler, Spencer, Telstar, Van Buren and Westwood elementary schools and Rogers Middle School.

In each proposal, Capitol Hill, Greystone, Martin Luther King, Mary Golda Ross, and Parmelee elementary schools would become middle schools.

In two of three proposals, Wheeler Elementary would be converted into a middle school.

Four charter schools — KIPP Reach, Seaworth South, Harding Fine Arts and Harding Charter Prep — would be relocated.

Oklahoma City's school system, the state's largest, is operating at about 60 percent of capacity and facing $11 million in cuts to state aid over the next two years based on projected enrollment declines.

New uses for closed buildings, including after-school programs, early childhood centers and health clinics, are proposed to meet community needs.

The district's mid-high model would be disbanded in favor of new grade structures that would look like this:

• Elementary — prekindergarten to fourth grade

• Middle school — fifth grade to eighth grade

• High school — ninth grade to 12th grade

Money saved by closing underused or outdated buildings — estimated to be between $4 million and $6 million — will be spent on additional teachers, including a minimum of three in each elementary grade to support collaboration, documents show.

McDaniel's plan calls for dedicated STEM programs and more full-time counselors at every elementary school. Every sixth-grader will have access to athletics, fine and performing arts, and other course offerings, he says.

Children in kindergarten through sixth grade would see lower average class sizes, and the district will have 54 percent more assistant principals and 41 percent more office clerks to support teachers, McDaniel says.

The school board is expected to vote on adopting a plan in early March.

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