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Financial woes are causing more Oklahoma districts to close schools

Financially strapped school districts in Oklahoma have shuttered nearly 30 schools since 2009, and more than a dozen others are on the chopping block, school officials say
BY VALLERY BROWN vbrown@opubco.com Published: March 30, 2011
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The only schools scheduled for closure next year are Westwood and Columbus Elementary Schools which will be combined into the existing Jackson Middle School facility.

Other districts

Last week, Lawton Public Schools officials said two elementary schools will be closed at the end of this school year.

Lawton schools spokesman Keith Mitchell said funding is decreasing at such a rate, the district had to make a move to avoid laying off teachers.

“We're facing what we predict is a $6 million loss in operating revenue for the district,” Mitchell said. “We are taking every strategy we can.”

Mitchell said closing the schools could save the district as much as $400,000 annually. The district in Comanche County near Fort Sill has nearly 40 schools and more than 16,000 students enrolled.

So far plans don't include laying off teachers. However, the positions of those who leave aren't being filled.

Mitchell said he knows the move will mean more kids in fewer classrooms.

One of the closed schools will be sold, and the other used to house professional development classes and administrative offices, Mitchell said.

The Midwest City-Del City School Board voted in February to sell two elementary schools. Students will be merged into other district schools.

Board member LeRoy Porter told The Oklahoman economics was the biggest factor in the decision. Porter said the district recognized an economic opportunity in selling the buildings and consolidating the elementary schools.

Contributing: Staff Writers Tricia Pemberton

and Megan Rolland