District finds MAPS for Kids helped, but still room for improvement 

Looking back nine years after MAPS for Kids, the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools found the school district still needs improvement.

This morning at the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, Foundation Executive Director Lori Dickinson and President Dave Lopez released the organization's 2009 assessment of MAPS for Kids and asked the Oklahoma City community to take on more personal involvement.

Unlike most other school districts in the state, Lopez said Oklahoma City Public Schools are unique because of how urban it is much like Houston or Chicago. Since the first assessment report released in 2005, the Foundation said the district has seen a large demographic shift, and without stability in the position of the school superintendent, ensuring success has become more challenging.

Lopez said 90 percent of students in the district are in the free/reduced lunch program at school, and that for most students, English is a second language because of the growing Hispanic community.

 "In the long run, we will be having great bilingual students into the workforce, but in the meantime, we have to adjust the way we teach that population," he said.

Another issue the district is facing is students quitting school. Lopez said that out of the sixth graders evaluated at the time of the study and based on their test results, only 50 percent of them would graduate from high school, with the majority of the other half dropping out or opting out of school.

While MAPS funding has been used mainly to renovate and furnish classrooms with the latest equipment, Lopez said a more strategic plan needs to be reached, and the community needs to raise expectations of the school district to the standards asked by the federal and state governments.

"While Oklahoma City schools is an urban school district, we are lucky that we are small. We are the right size and in the right city to get things done," Lopez said. "Time to roll up our sleeves; the job is not done at all." "LeighAnne Manwarren

photo Mark Hancock

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