Spring: that time of year when temperatures finally start rising and families gear up for much needed vacation time. With summer around the corner, it is never too early to start planning and making decisions for next school year.
Some of the questions parents might be asking themselves as they prepare for the upcoming school year include: Is this the best educational experience for my kid? Is mental health as important as academics and arts at his current school or should we take advantage of the new open transfer law? Would my student thrive more in an online or in-person learning setting?
Whether you are sending your child to school for the first time or thinking about transferring your student to a new school, looking at your neighborhood school is a good place to start. Great things have been happening at Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) in the past few years. From the ambitious Pathway to Greatness project — which reallocated funding to fulfill the district’s vision of providing students with equitable access to learning opportunities — to the Family Connect initiative that provides community resources to families and students, OKCPS is at the forefront of providing both quality education and mental health wellness for students, families and staff.
How could the new transfer law benefit my family?
SB 783 took effect Jan. 1, 2022, enabling students to transfer up to two times in a school year, as long as capacity hasn’t been exceeded and the student does not have any discipline or truancy issues.
Universal PreK available to all students
Open transfer can be especially helpful for those families whose assigned districts have a lottery system for PreK. If a student does not have a seat in their district’s PreK program, they can fill out a transfer request to attend OKCPS. Unlike other school districts that use a lottery system for PreK, OKCPS offers free full day PreK to every family who lives within the district’s boundaries with a seat available for each eligible child. PreK is available for free at every elementary school in OKCPS and at three off-site locations. Children must be 4 years old by Sept. 1, 2022, to be eligible to enroll in PreK. PreK in OKCPS is free for both in and out of district students.
Opportunities for a well-rounded, supportive education
Primary and secondary students may want to transfer schools or districts for a variety of reasons, and researching the opportunities available to your child at your local public schools is a great place to start.
In OKCPS, full-time art, music and PE teachers, counselors and nurses at every school provide students with a well-rounded educational experience regardless of the area they live. Pathway to Greatness allowed OKCPS to provide each student with a learning device and to help with connectivity as needed. Family Connect helps entire families with everything from mental and physical health to senior citizen support and transportation.
In addition to the 55 neighborhood schools, the district has three alternative education schools and five application middle and high schools — public schools with a competitive application process and criteria for selection — some of which have been ranked as top in the state of Oklahoma.
For students interested in a particular area of study, OKCPS offers specific academies focused on areas of interest at each school. For example, if a student wants to pursue health sciences, there are three high schools that have health science academies: Classen School of Advanced Studies at Northeast, Northwest Classen and U.S. Grant. If a student’s assigned high school wasn’t one of these three schools, transferring would be a great option.
Commitment to diversity
With more than 65 languages spoken throughout the school district, OKCPS is one of the most ethnically diverse districts in the state. The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation helps the district ensure they are hiring teachers who look like the students they’re teaching with the Bilingual and Diversity Pipeline programs. The pipeline provides financial and academic support for paraprofessionals who are bilingual or of color who are already working in OKCPS to earn their teaching certification. Upon successful completion, the paraprofessionals become full-time teachers in OKCPS.
Online education with support from a home school
In addition to in-person learning, OKCPS also offers a full-time online educational experience through the e3 program. The e3 program differs from traditional online-only programs by keeping students connected to a neighborhood school and providing the option to take electives like arts and sports at the school. e3 students can also attend field trips with their home school if they choose and OKCPS provides a tablet or laptop and provides support with connectivity. Graduating seniors can walk with their class at graduation and transcripts will list a traditional school. Out-of-district transfers to OKCPS’s e3 program are welcome.
Families interested in transferring into OKCPS should fill out a transfer request form on okcps.org/transfer. Transfers are considered in the order in which they are received and acceptance into the district will depend on school capacity, student’s behavior and attendance.
Supporting Your Local Public School
Whether or not your student attends an OKCPS school, there are still many ways families can help support the district or the public school near you, such as:
- Volunteer: Donate time and volunteer at your local school. From assisting teachers to reading to students and giving a hand with school events, help is always appreciated for busy teachers and staff! To sign up as a volunteer, visit org/volunteers
- DonorsChoose: If time is a constraint, consider funding an OKCPS classroom project on org/OKCPS. From STEM to arts, PE, and more, choose a project you’d like to support and help your neighborhood public school!
- Coat-A-Kid: Winters in Oklahoma can be brutal. Unfortunately, many students do not have the warmth of a winter coat to bundle up when the temperatures drop. With the Coat-A-Kid program, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation provides a brand new winter coat to students with only a $20 donation. Make a difference for the children in your community to stay warm during the cold months, visit com/coat-a-kid to make a donation.
- Vote: Showing up to the polls and making your voice heard through local elections is a great way to support public education. Board of Education members are voted in by their constituents, and new projects, programs and facilities are voted upon through bond elections. Visit your public school district’s website to learn about upcoming elections.