Tulsa public charter schools are set to grow by nearly 900 students combined over the next five years.
The Tulsa school board approved the expansion of three public charter schools. Tulsa Honor Academy will start the five-year rollout of a high school next year, while Collegiate Hall will begin adding pre-K through third grades and Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences will start offering sixth grade in 2020.
The expansions will mean estimated increases of 500 students at Tulsa Honor Academy, 300 at Collegiate Hall and 75 at Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences.
School board President Suzanne Schreiber said while parents may choose alternatives to neighborhood schools, seeing them in competition with charter schools is the wrong way of thinking about it.
"There is no reason for this otherness of our charter partners. They enrich our TPS ecosystem, and the existing TPS ecosystem enriches them," Schreiber said.
Not all board members were sold on the proposals, however, including Shawna Keller, who spoke after Tulsa Honor Academy supporters.
"I do believe in innovation, I believe in outside-of-the-box thinking, and I believe that students should be afforded the best possible opportunities. I just strongly believe that TPS should be the one who does that in our neighborhood schools," Keller said.
Tulsa Honor Academy founder Elsie Urueta Pollock said allowing the charter school to serve students past middle school is good for all east Tulsa students.
"Many of the schools in east Tulsa are over capacity. By pulling scholars from some of the most densely populated schools in TPS, we will help alleviate some of the stressors associated with overly crowded classrooms," Pollock said.
Tulsa Public Schools is among the state’s districts that can authorize public charter schools.