Officials representing Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City Public Schools discussed how to work together to improve the relationship between the community and its schools Tuesday night.
The Oklahoma City Council and the Oklahoma City School Board met jointly in a dim, crowded board room at the Oklahoma History Center. All members of both boards attended.
City and school employees, as well as community partners, discussed projects the task force committees have been working on. Some of the highlights:
Transportation. Students attending the new career-focused academies at area high schools can use city buses for free to go to and from school, said Rick Cain, director of transportation and parking for the city. The program will save the school district about $50,000. School board members expressed interest in expanding the transportation alliance.
Communication. Committee members are looking into ways to broadcast more school district information on the city's television channel, said Tierney Tinnin, media relations manager for the school district.
Neighborhoods. School leaders are opening their buildings to more neighborhood groups for meetings and events, said Georgie Rasco, executive director of Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma. Stronger connections must be built between schools and the surrounding residents, she said. “We've got to start working on that disconnect between neighborhoods and schools,” Rasco said. “Whether they have kids in that school or not, the school is a vital part of the neighborhood.”
Stadiums. Both council members and school board members agreed that the prowess of underperforming Oklahoma City athletic teams should be restored. Renovations are planned for stadiums at Taft Middle School and Capitol Hill High School. More funding to continue those projects — particularly the scoreboards — could come in from advertising, Athletic Director Keith Sinor said.
Auditing. School officials are open to the idea of a management audit performed by city workers. “It's sort of like an internal audit on steroids,” Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan said.
Mayor Mick Cornett said he was excited about what has been accomplished so far and that he would like the boards to meet together again. School Board Chairwoman Angela Monson said the effort was unique and was helping the district progress.