The Oklahoma City School District has a glut of vacant properties. Some, like the old John Marshall High School, were abandoned recently in favor of new schools built under MAPS for Kids.
Others, like the Dunjee Field House, have been vacant for years. The district owns 16 vacant buildings or lots, and that number could grow as schools are consolidated in the face of a growing budget shortfall and smaller student populations. "I’ve never had a position where I’ve seen so much vacant property,” said Jim Burkey, the district’s chief operations officer. "It’s a very serious liability problem for the district.” The school board recently voted to sell six of those properties, raising the question of what can be done with vacant school buildings. For sale are the old John Marshall High School and Creston Hills and Willard elementary schools. All were closed as part of MAPS projects. Also for sale are the Sunnyside, Sunset and Truman properties, which closed in the 1990s or earlier. Burkey said the sale of the properties could bring in between $500,000 and $1.2 million. "If we were to eliminate, get rid of all our vacant properties, it would be a savings of $30,000 annually just on the insurance,” Burkey said. For example, last Independence Day, teenagers set off fireworks in the old Truman Elementary School on Kelham Drive, catching the building on fire. It cost the district $94,000 to demolish the building, Burkey said.
New purpose for old schoolsJim Sconzo, executive director of the Community Action Agency, said his organization loves the two school buildings it rents from the district. "We use school buildings and we keep them up and keep them in good shape,” he said. "The school district can’t maintain them. Education Station Blog