Will Sapulpa lose our rural schools?

Senator Bingman authored SB1382
Senator Bingman authored SB1382

A bill being introduced as soon as next week, that would force our area’s smaller dependent schools (K-8th) to be consolidated or annexed by the larger Sapulpa School District. Some schools affected by the bill may even close, though it’s unclear which.

Senate Bill 1382, authored by Senator Brian Bingman, states that qualifying schools would be able to volunteer for the move the first year, but then be forced to the following year. Read the bill here.

Why is this bill being proposed?

This bill aims to reduce administration and transportation costs in schools. By consolidating, annexing or even closing some of our smaller dependent schools, such as Lone Star, Pretty Water, Lawmakers say that a big cause of the current budget shortfall is the pain that’s caused to larger districts when they begin taking in students at ninth grade.

Schools affected in Sapulpa area:

  • Pretty Water Elementary
  • Allen-Bowden Elementary
  • Lone Star Elementary

Is this a new idea?

No. Consolidation is an item that has been on the table for the last several years, but a $47-million budget cut this year could finally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and makes consolidation a reality. That cut could be expected to raise to $66 million.

The truth is, Oklahoma has annexed or consolidated more than 92% of it’s schools since statehood. Over 100 of those have happened since 1977. Consolidation has been around since the beginning.

Will it help?

expenditures-per-pupil-20092010Probably not. Hawaii has a single statewide school district, and the lowest cost of administration, at roughly $31 per student. If we were to match that and put all of the savings directly back into instruction and the hiring of teachers, we’d only be able to increase spending by less than 3%.

Consolidation is a hot topic among parents, teachers and school employees.

“The independent school district is why many families have chosen to live in our particular area. If we wanted our children to go to a larger district we would send them there, not by force of the ‘consolidation’.”

—Amariah Monroy, has children in Pretty Water

“Not everyone gets to go to Lone Star, meanwhile kids in other schools suffer so we can use tax dollars to employ superintendents, principals and teachers in a small district to make people happy. It is common sense to consolidate.”

—Jerry Cichon, former Drumright School employee

“We have a great school and I would not want to lose it. Why is it always education? It’s not education that’s been misappropriated.”

—Ginny Playford, 8th-grade teacher at Lone Star

What can I do?

If you don’t want to see our rural schools close, you can sign the petition that’s been created at Change.org trying to block this bill from getting passed. See the petition here.