The Tulsa (Okla.) school board has voted to close an elementary school and merge its functions with a nearby early childhood development center.
The Tulsa World reports that Gilcrease Elementary School building will close at the end of the school year. The school's functions will be consolidated with ECDC-Bunche and will open in August as a preK-5 campus at the Bunche building.
Before a board vote was taken, 17 Gilcrease teachers and advocates spoke against consolidating the two schools, and dozens more crowded the board room to support them. Many of the speakers insisted that there was not enough time to ensure a smooth transition before the start of the 2019-20 school year.
They also argued that it would make more sense to use the larger Gilcrease building instead of Bunche.
Many complained about a lack of community input concerning the proposal and the frequent changes affecting north Tulsa schools. Others feared that a charter school would eventually move into the vacated Gilcrease building.
The crowd of consolidation opponents cheered as the board’s newest members, Brian Hosmer and Stacey Woolley, announced that they would vote against the proposal because of the community opposition.
By consolidating Gilcrease and Bunche, every school serving elementary students in the area will end at fifth grade. Currently, Bunche offers only pre-K and kindergarten, and Gilcrease offers first grade through sixth grade.
The district chose Bunche as the site of the combined school because it was designed as an elementary school. Gilcrease has a middle school design. Because the Bunche facility has undergone a recent renovation, she said, it’s a more appropriate location for young students and is the most financially responsible decision, officials say.