"I have been involved with Gatewood Elementary as a community volunteer through my former role with the Plaza District as Executive Director. From the very beginning, the school has been the heart of the neighborhood, and the progress of the Plaza District goes hand in hand with the progress of the school. There is no way one can thrive long term without the other. My husband (a Plaza business owner) goes to Gatewood at 7:30am every Tuesday and Thursday as a reading and math buddy to Gatewood Elementary students. We both have a huge heart for this school and neighborhood.
It is extremely short-sighted to not consider the increasing number of young families who have moved into the neighborhood with plans to send their kids to Gatewood. Several couples have been investing their time and energy into the school before they have even had kids in anticipation for raising their families here. We were just about to reach that tipping point, and the ripple effect of this consolidation will be felt for years to come.
This is not just about the young families. The families who have always been sending their kids and grandkids to this school are at risk. Closing Gatewood will leave affluent families the options to move or send their kids to charter/private school; the families without these means will be left to be shuffled to a different school with a vastly different culture and learning atmosphere. Eugene Field Elementary is an amazing school. Serving on both CABs, I was shocked at the wide differences between two schools on opposite sides of 16th. They are wonderfully unique schools each in their own ways, but consolidating students will be a strain on both sides.
I am not a parent, but with the help of so many in the community I helped to raise a neighborhood. It is absolutely heartbreaking to imagine all the growth, time, energy and financial investment which has gone into this place, will be severed by such a decision, especially when that decision is being made so swiftly. I can’t imagine what actual parents are feeling.
I understand OKCPS is in a terrible predicament, but the solution is not to consolidate these schools. I cannot stress enough the traumatic implications this closing will have on the families, neighborhood health, and economic vitality. It is also a horrible injustice that the public funds used to fund the MAPS gym, and the private funds invested in the KaBOOM playground, track and landscape improvements will have been wasted on facilities and amenities that will be unused and eventually in disrepair. With the climate of school funding, you cannot expect the public to trust any plans for these facilities to be maintained or adapted for reuse properly.
I plead with you to oppose this consolidation. At the very least, please allow more time for continued community feedback to explore other options. This proposal was brought so swiftly and with such high implications. I stand with the many families, teachers, staff, neighbors, business owners, property owners and the Plaza District Association and Uptown 23rd in asking for your opposition to this consolidation."
- Kristen Vails Gilpin
Along with Kristen's letter, the Plaza District Association has also released it's disapproval of the potential Gatewood Elementary closure. Here it is in it's entirety.