Ballard Committed to Open Discussion of Project Schoolhouse

TULSA, Okla. – Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard today said that he is committed to making Project Schoolhouse a collaborative effort, and that public input and participation are critical if the TPS initiative is to be successful. 

“Project Schoolhouse is going to require all of us to open our minds and have a frank and spirited discussion about our district’s options,” said Ballard. “That’s why I am committed to making this as open a process as we can make it. While school closings are a likely outcome, I am encouraged that with the help of parents and the community, we can create better learning opportunities and the best environment possible. Change is difficult, but we will find our way to blue sky. You can count on it.”

Leading the process is the Project Schoolhouse Advisory Council, a 15-member group appointed by the TPS school board to study data relating to the district. They are looking at the utilization and condition of existing facilities, student academic performance, school locations, programming, community impact, culture, safety, legal obligations and savings and reinvestment opportunities.

Another group, called Blue Sky, has been tasked with recommending changes and improvements to schools to eliminate variations in educational quality, equity and cost-effectiveness within the district.  The goal of this group – composed of education reformers – is to ensure that every student in the district is “trading up” from their current educational experience to a brighter educational future.

The Project Team, a third group, is made up of TPS executive staff and other key employees who provide resources to the Advisory Council and the Blue Sky Group.  They are responsible for keeping the project on track in terms of process and timeline, and will help evaluate the feasibility of recommendations based on staffing and other resources.

“I am pleased to announce that the bulk of the Advisory Council meeting for Project Schoolhouse is open to the public, as much time is spent talking about the data that has been collected,” said Ballard. “By necessity, there are private discussions off-line where various scenarios may be discussed. Once the Advisory Council makes its final recommendations to the school board, we will have a second round of informational forums for parents and families, followed by final hearings.

“I know we will have spirited discussion. I wish for nothing less from interested parents. Strong communication with parents, teachers and the community is the only way we will ever be successful in ensuring our children get the quality learning experience they deserve,” said Ballard. 

Parents and Tulsa community members are invited to attend the PTA’s informational forums.  Forums are planned at each of the district’s nine high schools, with six completed to date.  The next forum will take place at Webster High School on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 6 p.m. in the school library.  Patrons from all area feeder schools are welcome.  Forums planned at Hale High School and McLain High School will be rescheduled due to the weather-related closing of schools.  Please check the TPS website for updates. 

Tulsa Public Schools also welcomes comments, questions and concerns about Project Schoolhouse.  Click here to let your voice be heard.

About Project Schoolhouse

Project Schoolhouse refers to the TPS initiative and process to examine the best possible use of existing financial and physical resources to provide a quality learning experience for every student. This process may result in the closing of some facilities.  Parent and community feedback will be paramount to this process and TPS hopes to have your participation.

For more details about Project Schoolhouse, click here

Updated 02-10-2011

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