Union in the ‘Center of the Community’
By EMILY RAMSEY
FAMILY EVENTS: Students and parents participate together at Clark Elementary’s after-hours family events where community gatherings are hosted.
MICHAEL VORE for Union Public Schools
“Even though Union Public Schools doesn’t have its own city like Tulsa or Broken Arrow schools, we still want to be in the center of our community,” says Charlie Bushyhead, assistant superintendent for support services.
“I remember an older gentleman who was attending a home and garden show at the a few years ago,” says Sarah McBryde, director of facilities. “He commented that he didn’t have children in school, but it was nice to be able to come to other events in the buildings that his tax money helped build.”
Through the years, Union Public Schools has maintained its philosophy of being a community partner and regularly opens its facilities up for use by the public.
“When you look at our bond passage rate, it’s always really high,” says Bushyhead. “That means that members of the community are supporting us even if they have no kids.”
Some examples of public use include Homeowners Association Meetings, Adult Education Classes, Town Hall Meetings, activities, community schools’ dinners, community education classes.
“We have churches, nonprofits, sports groups and business entities who use our venues for various events and seminars,” says McBryde. “I work closely with the individuals at the Tulsa Sports Commission. They always check with me to see if we have facilities available if an event’s coming to town.”
The High School’s stays busy year round with dance recitals, concerts, church-sponsored events. For three years, the India Association of Greater Tulsa has held its Diwali celebration there.
The district’s community schools also make available their University of Oklahoma Bedlam medical clinics throughout the summer.
Also, during the summer, school libraries regularly open for children and their families to utilize.
“Most of our schools have things going on all summer long,” Bushyhead says.
Taking it a step further, when we are designing new buildings, we try to do that with the community in mind: creating spaces that will allow us to serve the community and meet its needs as well as those of the school, he says.
For example, with the renovation of the 8th Grade Center, school officials are keeping in mind how the public will use the school, such as the , which uses gym facilities for after-school and weekend activities and summer camps.
As school officials work through the design phase of its newest elementary school, the has attended the school district’s past two meetings with its architects regarding design of the new school.
The also manages Union’s wellness center at the High School.
“We have a very strong relationship with the ,” says Bushyhead. “We know that our relationships with groups like them are so important.”