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LPS eases concerns about fewer elementary schools

LAWTON, Okla._With the start of school just around the corner, some families in Lawton are concerned about the possibility of overcrowding in their children's classrooms. 

Lawton Public Schools closed four elementary schools at the end of the last school year, and relocated those students to 10 other schools. One of the schools getting the additional students is Ridgecrest Elementary. When parents arrived for to check-in their children, they saw portable buildings on the basketball court. They also saw playground equipment that had been dug up and set aside, causing some parents to worry about what could be next.

Superintendent Dr. Tom Deighan explained that the portable buildings will not be used for classrooms. He said they are actually there to prevent overcrowding for students inside the school. As far as the playground equipment, they say it is just temporary and that it will be relocated soon.

Deighan says overcrowding was a big issue when the decision was made to close the schools. Parents didn't want their children to go to portable buildings. So, when parents saw them, it raised a red flag.

"That was not the direction we're going. We are moving some support services into the portables," Deighan explained.

Some of those support services include administrative offices and tutoring centers. Some parents are also worried about their students going to a new school. Executive director of operations Kyle Smith says he understands children, like the ones at recently closed Wilson Elementary, won't be in a familiar environment. But hopefully after a few days in, they will feel in the right place.

"Kids that have attended Wilson over the years, maybe 5th-graders are now going to Washington. It'll be a bit of an adjustment, but Washington and Whittier are well prepared to take them and make them feel a part of their new school," Smith said.

For some of the schools closing, like Park Lane Elementary, some people might wonder if the windows are going to be boarded up and is the grass going to be cut? Smith says these schools will be maintained just as well as the other ones.

"Neighborhoods do not need to worry about the schools being rundown or becoming places for vandalism. We're going to make sure that we keep the schools in good shape," Smith said.

They plan on keeping those schools protected with the alarm systems that are already in place. Keeping them clean is a priority because they are unsure if they will be needed again or if they will be sold.

Another LPS school, Gateway Academy, will have a new home for the school year. The students and staff will be relocated to the Douglas Learning Center, which is located at 102 E Gore Boulevard. School starts Friday, August 21.

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