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Seminole County school leaders eye consolidation carefully

Leaders in Seminole, a community an hour east of Oklahoma City, say schools are the lifeblood of the community and that consolidation poses problems for small districts.
By Ben Luschen, bluschen@opubc.com Modified: July 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm •  Published: July 29, 2012

Bill Underwood, a Seminole resident who has been involved with the community since 1973, has seen the pride small towns have for their communities and schools firsthand.

Underwood's son played football for Seminole High School, and Underwood compares the city's passion for the team with the way some people support the University of Oklahoma or the University of Notre Dame.

Underwood says the recipe for Seminole and other small communities' success is simple.

“People are friendly, people are nice, schools are good,” he said.

The local school has always been a cornerstone for small towns across Oklahoma, says Jeff Pritchard, superintendent of Seminole Public Schools. Pritchard says families often use the schools to find common ground with their children.

“They (the schools) are the lifeblood to so many of these small communities because they identify with them,” Pritchard said. “A lot of the time, you have individuals who went to school there, they grew up there and they want their children to experience the great experience they had in that same school system.”

However, some in the state are asking if these school systems are serving enough students to be cost-effective.

There are 10 school districts in Seminole County. Though the enrollment for Seminole Public School District is 1,845, the median enrollment for the whole county is 310.

The enrollment for the combined districts in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties are both more than 100,000. Cleveland County, the state's third largest county, has an enrollment of more than 40,000.

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