Two Tulsa elementary schools that will shut down at the end of the 2019-20 school year may soon be available for rent.
Tulsa Public Schools is seeking applications from organizations and entities interested in leasing the vacant Mark Twain and Wright school buildings. The two elementary schools will close along with Grimes and Jones elementaries as part of a budget-reduction plan to eliminate an anticipated $20 million shortfall next year.
Administrators also have announced an improved process for matching potential tenants with vacant school buildings. This process is driven by three primary guidelines, the first being that the district will rent only buildings that are usable and in good condition.
“No one benefits from vacant buildings that are usable,” Superintendent Deborah Gist said during a recent school board meeting. “They cost more to maintain; they don’t broaden services we provide; and they don’t generate revenue.”
The Grimes and Jones elementary school sites are not available for potential lease due to their conditions. Jones, for instance, requires significant repairs to be considered viable. Properties that are not in good condition often are added to the district’s surplus list and sold.
Because the school buildings selected for lease were built and funded to service Tulsa Public Schools, Gist said the second guideline involves prioritizing district needs when selecting a tenant. Priority would then open up to TPS-sponsored charter or partnership schools if a deal isn’t made.
The third guideline centers on transparency and keeping potential tenants as well as community members up to date on the leasing process, which will be presented formally to the school board Monday evening.
Organizations will have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit an application for the Mark Twain and Wright properties. A committee will review applications through mid-May. The school board is expected to hear the district’s recommendations for tenants May 18 and make its decisions in June, said Jorge Robles, TPS chief operating officer.
“I think this new transparent process provides a stronger approach and consistency to how we lease buildings and an opportunity to constantly evaluate our assets,” he said.