School work

The John W. Rex Charter Elementary School is the final school that will be built through MAPS for Kids. It is a partnership between Oklahoma City Public Schools and OKC Quality Schools Inc., a nonprofit group headed by former mayor Kirk Humphreys.

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 for the planned three-story school building were presented last week at the Oklahoma City Council meeting. Detailed renderings are about two months away, said MAPS Program Manager David Todd.

Todd said that the land for the school at Walker and Sheridan was originally estimated to cost $500,000. Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, the site’s owner, agreed to sell for $200,000.

The trust approved a grant from the John W. Rex board for an additional $2.4 million for construction and architectural work. The money will provide for a gymnasium that otherwise could not be built, since the school does not qualify to receive funds from the school district’s 2007 bond to put gyms in all district elementary schools. A gym was not part of the school’s original MAPS for Kids plan, Humphreys told the trust.

The price tag
Named for deceased American Fidelity Assurance Co. president and education advocate John Rex, the school is expected to be around 79,000 square feet and cost around $180 per square foot. The $14.3 million for its construction will come from around $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 around 500 students, pre-K through sixth grade. Children living within the school’s boundaries get first priority for enrollment. Students in failing Oklahoma City public schools receive second priority, while those in the district’s non-failing public schools get third priority. Fourth priority goes to children outside the district with a parent or guardian who works within the school boundaries, according to Humphreys.

At a meeting later this month, the John W. Rex school board will vote on the school boundaries. The proposal before the panel essentially encompass all of downtown, Humphreys said: 10th Street on the north, Western Avenue on the west, the Oklahoma River on the south and Lottie on the East. The would-be boundaries for the school, which will be located near the Devon tower, also includes the whole of the OU Health Sciences Center.

“It’s been said … this is just for Devon executives.,” Humphreys told the trust. “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. I would love to see it be that people are fighting to get into this school.”

Humphreys, who as mayor appointed many of the people on the Metropolitan Area Public School Trust, praised the trust and city staff for their hard work on the years-long MAPS for Kids program. He said he hopes the expected success of the downtown school will be replicated in all Oklahoma City schools.

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

Clifton Adcock

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