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Tulsa Schools Votes To Close Cherokee School

In a 5-2 vote, Cherokee School which was begun as Turley School in the early part of the twentieth century, was voted to be closed. Still to be determined are what the new boundaries will be covering the existing school boundaries, or what area schools will now cover this area; those are to be unveiled within a week or two. Also to be determined is what will be done with the building and the lands. We will keep you posted. We encourage you email, Dr. Lana Turner-Addison, school board representative for our area who voted to close the school as part of the project schoolhouse initiative, to say that the community needs to be involved in what happens to the property; also send your emails to and to state representative Seneca Scott at who has been working to keep the school open. Our best option now is to make sure the building is used by a community oriented group. Also email support to Principal Jody Tell at

Here are my remarks to the School Board before the vote was taken:

I am Ron Robinson, a district resident and graduate of Cherokee, Monroe, and McLain, and with A Third Place Community Foundation, an active partner in education with Cherokee School in many ways through school programming, outdoor classrooms, gardens and landscaping and running the summer food program at the school for all of the community all summer long, and I am on the board of the new McLain School Foundation.

There is much hope and promise in the Project Schoolhouse initiative, especially for us in north Tulsa. Still it is with sadness and regret that I speak tonight because of lost opportunities to make the plan even better for an area that needs the best, and of course with a little sense of outrage that public schools have received this kind of treatment from state political leaders. We need to take this energy and be in oklahoma city.

But First,our Cherokee school and parent and community leaders still simply want to know specifically why, why Cherokee was closed compared to other schools in our immediate area based on the measurement criteria used which to all our eyes didn’t seem justified in comparison? And why no one met with Cherokee to go over the alternative proposals we made which we feel would be ways to improve not only Cherokee but building on its strengths to help McLain, our neighbor on North Peoria a mile away.

Why have three schools serving children under sixth grade within a half mile of each other on North Cincinnati; why not take any one of those programs and move it one mile east to North Peoria to Cherokee? Why reopen Monroe for an immersion program when you could move it one mile north to already existing Cherokee?

Second, why at this date, at this point in the project, are people from the principal to teachers to parents and community leaders still asking these questions? This is perhaps the biggest question with the longest lasting effects for building any bridges with those affected at Cherokee, for keeping them connected with the local public school system and trying to keep them in our neighborhoods that have received so much historic and continuing neglect and abandonment by all institutions.

Lastly, we are concerned with what might happen next and how the community is treated as part of any closure and the future of the land use. Cherokee School is unique. It was not created by Tulsa Public School. It was given to TPS by the Turley area community when it closed its own school district. The historic arch of Turley High School is on the grounds, as is part of the Turley Historical Display, and the trees and gardens have been planted there by the community residents which now includes those from both incorporated city of Tulsa neighborhoods and unincorporated community of Turley neighborhoods.

We hope for the best for the initiative. We hope that in the future you will find our community’s school buildings and grounds to be of use some way for the education of our children and the growing of healthy community. We have so very very very few community assets left in our part of the 74126 zipcode; but one of our assets, the main one, is a people who are proud to live where we live, in a naturally multiethnic diverse community, and to help one another make our area one with deeper community ties, the ties that are the real source of the good life.

And so we end by inviting you, TPS, to come back to our community, to find ways to partner with us, not just for our sake, but for your sake, for your growth and improvement, and for the benefit of the lives of the children and youth we all serve.

We are still waiting to find out why.

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