ALTUS, Okla._School administrators in Altus are struggling to figure out the district's future after losing about 1,000 students over a 15-year period.
Officials believe this drop in enrollment is tied to the job struggle in the community. They said the drought, combined with a dip in the oil industry, may have caused people to move out of Altus, and as a result, take their children out of the school system.
School administrators are still in the brainstorming phase of this project, but the Altus superintendent said it makes sense to him to switch four of the five elementary schools to grade centers.
The setup in Altus would put the Pre-K and kindergarten students in one school, 1st-grade and 2nd-grade in another, and 3rd-grade and 4th-grade in their own school. Administrators are also talking about moving the alternative education school, Bulldog Academy, to one of the grade centers. Superintendent Roger Hill said they are attempting to keep as many jobs as possible.
"We're looking at this as being the most efficient manner of providing services that we can without anyone's job being in jeopardy. To me, it just makes sense that this is the direction the district moves," Hill said.
The school board would possibly close one elementary school, which would eliminate some maintenance, utilities and other general costs. Hill said this would help the district financially.
Most of these changes that the Altus School Board is considering will stay with the elementary schools. Secondary education schools will likely not be affected.
Hill said no matter the decision, he wants to make sure he keeps the core values of Altus Public Schools.
"I would say that it's a matter of still providing the quality of services, programs, maintain the same levels of staffing that we have and doing it in a more efficient manner," Hill said.
The one elementary school that would not be involved is Rivers Elementary on Altus Air Force Base. Hill said logistically and the needs it serves are too important to change.