A great deal of education reform and downtown Oklahoma City development hopes are pinned on the success of the new downtown elementary school. The school's first MAPS for Kids community meeting Tuesday is the public's first chance to have a say in how the project will unfold.
John W. Rex Elementary School, a charter school to be located at Sheridan and Walker avenues, is one of the final school projects in MAPS for Kids and is thought to be part of a groundbreaking arrangement. Oklahoma City Public Schools could be the first public school district in the country to operate its own charter school, and will do so with nonprofit group Oklahoma City Quality Schools.
The first community meeting will feature architects unveiling the schematic design of the school, which is expected to be about 79,000 square feet, including a gymnasium, and cost about $14 million, said David Todd, who heads the city's MAPS office. Two more meetings will follow in the coming months.
“It will be the first time the public is made aware of what's planned there, and it's an opportunity for them to make comments about that,” Todd said.
Construction on the school is set to begin next spring, and officials hope to have it ready by the start of the 2014-15 school year.
Civic leaders have long hoped the downtown elementary school could be a jewel of the MAPS for Kids program, and also help the ongoing revitalization of downtown.
“We knew it would take us 10 years to build the buildings, but we thought it would take another 10 years to fix what takes place inside the buildings,” said former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who leads Oklahoma City Quality Schools and is on the Rex school board. “This isn't the first step, but it's the next step in that process.”