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'MAPS for Kids' important, city leaders say

By Jack Money Published: November 1, 2001
A successful MAPS for Kids program is critical to the future of Oklahoma City Public Schools, local school leaders say.

Mayor Kirk Humphreys says its success also is critical to City Hall.

City officials have known for years that their best efforts at making the community a good place to live and work can't be successful without good schools.

A task force convened by Humphreys after his 1998 election discussed the issue in a report issued in February 2000.

"Quality public schools are the Number One determinant of housing patterns and in the long run will determine the success or failure of efforts to revitalize our urban neighborhoods," the task force report says.

"The primary objective of the Oklahoma City School district, which has lost its middle-class families, must be to bring them back."

Chuck Wiggin, chairman of the group, said people draw perceptions about the district from its old, run-down buildings.

"This is not an easy thing to fix," he said. "The questions we must answer are not just about the facilities, but also about how we deliver a quality education and how we engage both students and their families in that process."

Good schools exist in parts of Oklahoma City, like those of Edmond, Moore, Mustang, Yukon, Midwest City-Del City and various others.

But officials say schools need to be top-notch communitywide.

Good schools, they said, bring in new businesses and new people looking for places to live and spend their money. And new residential development would be better if it happened in older parts of town.

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