Land purchase approved for downtown school

The John W. Rex Charter Elementary
school is the final new project in the MAPS for Kids program, and is
a partnership between Oklahoma City Public Schools and the nonprofit
group headed by Kirk Humphries OKC Quality Schools Inc.

Oklahoma City Public Schools will apply
for the school’s charter to the University of Oklahoma, and the
charter will be turned over to the John W. Rex board upon approval.

Schematic designs, of the planned
three-story school house were presented earlier in the day at the
Oklahoma City Council meeting, and detailed renderings are about two
months away, said MAPS Program Manager David Todd.

Todd said original estimates on the
cost of the land for the school, located at Walker and Sheridan avenues and owned by
the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, pegged the cost at
$500,000, though OCURA agreed to sell for $200,000.

The trust also approved a
grant from the John W. Rex board for an additional $2.4 million for
construction and architectural work.

The reason for the grant is to include
a gymnasium at the elementary school, which was not part of the OKCPS 2007
bond fund.

The school is planned to be
around 79,000 square feet, cost around $180 per square foot, and the
$14.3 million for its construction will come from approximately $9 million
in MAPS for Kids funds, $1.5 million from tax increment finance
district funds, $1.5 million from MAPS contingency funds and $2.4
million from the John W. Rex board.

Plans call for about 500 students,
pre-K through 6th grade, at the school with those living
within the school’s boundaries getting first priority for enrollment,
students in failing Oklahoma City Public Schools getting second
priority, any student in any Oklahoma City Public School getting
third priority and children from outside the district whose parent or
guardian works within the school boundaries getting fourth priority,
Humphries said.

The boundaries of the school basically
encompasses all of downtown, Humphries said, with the proposed
boundaries (to be voted on at a John W. Rex board meeting later this
month) being 10th Street on the north, Western Avenue on
the west, the Oklahoma River on the south and Lottie on the East. The
boundaries also include all of the Health Sciences Center, he said.

“It’s been said … this is just for
Devon executives. Well, it’s for anybody, even in Devon there’s a
whole lot of folks who aren’t executives, even in Sonic there’s a
lot of folks who aren’t executives,” Humphries told the trust. “I
would love to see it be that people are fighting to get into this
school.”

Humphries, who appointed many of the
people on the Metropolitan Area Public School Trust, also praised the
trust and city staff for their hard work on the years-long MAPS for
Kids program, and said he hopes the expected success of the John W.
Rex Charter school is replicated in all Oklahoma City schools.

“We just want quality schools in
Oklahoma City,” he said, “and this is one step there.”

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