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Lawton ranks among the top in the US for raising children

Lawton_If you live in Lawton and have a family - or are thinking about moving to Lawton and starting a family - there's great news.  "Business Week" says Lawton is one of the best cities in the country for raising kids, and ranks Lawton as the best city in Oklahoma to bring them up - followed by Midwest City and Broken Arrow.  Researches looked primarily at school performance, crime rates, and cost of living when making their decisions. 

Officials from Lawton Public Schools (LPS), city government, and the Chamber of Commerce, say they have known for years that Lawton is a great place to raise kids.  They say they are thrilled that a reputable outside source agrees.

LPS Superintendent Barry Beauchamp says the "Business Week" review is tremendous for the community - especially for the schools.  "Certainly it's a real reflection of the fine teachers that we have," he said.  "Schools are people, they're not buildings.  They're students and teachers in the classroom, accomplishing the things that they need to be successful."

The rankings weighed school performance and safety heavily in the rankings.  Researchers looked at the total crime risk.  Lawton Police Chief Ronnie Smith says it matches his stats.  "Crime is not that high in Lawton," he said.  "We are taking care of what we do have, and we have statistics that prove crime is going down." 

The rankings also considered the cost of living and job growth.  Lawton's population continues to grow, bringing more companies and better jobs.  "We've seen the average income of our households increase significantly over the past five or six years, and all of those things play a role in this being an affordable place to raise kids," said Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce President Dana Davis.  "It's high time that everybody knew what we knew," said Ward 8 Lawton City Councilmember Randy Warren.  "We've known for a long time that this is a good place to live and raise your kids, and it's time that that message gets out to the rest of the world."

Beauchamp says LPS offers the same quality of education year after year, so Lawton may be in line to garner the same acknowledgement next year.  "You don't do it to garner awards or to be recognized, you do it because it's the right thing to do for the kids," he said.  "We just need to offer the same quality of education that we always have."

Smith says that as the population continues to grow, the police force will grow as well.  They have grown from 155 to 165 uniformed officers over the past four years, and should be at 175 or 180 officers in four more years.

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