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After close to a decade of discussion, Oklahoma City Public Schools administrators are finally leaving their crumbling 96-year-old administration building at 900 N. Klein.

The former junior high has been the OKCPS administration building for the past 62 years.

Different departments will scatter throughout the district in schools where there is available space.

They will stay there until a former bank building at 615 N. Classen is converted to the new administration building. The project is scheduled for completion in 2019.

“I’m going to kind of miss this building,” Superintendent Aurora Lora told Free Press. “This is where I got my first superintendency.”

The cornerstone for the building was laid in 1921 and served as a junior high until it was converted into the administration building in 1955.

But by the end of June it will be empty, ready for its next life.

First step

The building was declared surplus by the district’s board of education in their May 1 meeting.

That is the first step that state law calls for when a public school district wants to dispose of property it no longer wants to use or maintain.

Scott Randall, OKCPS chief operating officer, said selling a property like that one with 122,000 square feet is not a quick process and so they have been working on it even when personnel were still in the building to shorten the time it would sit vacant.

“For this to set vacant is never a good situation,” Randall said. “We want to be a responsible member of the community.”

OKCPS is now having an appraisal done on the property Randall told Free Press.

He said the appraisal would be kept confidential to ensure that bids for the property will be done according to market values. The board will then use the appraisal as a tool to evaluate the bids.

“We hope for and want a very competitive process,” said Randall.

Relocation plan

The district’s goal is to have everyone out of the building by the close of the fiscal year June 30.

Scott Randall, Aurora Lora
Scott Randall, COO and Supt. Aurora Lora (R) make their request to the OKC Council

Feb. 28 the Oklahoma City Council approved a request by the district to receive $10 million in TIF (tax increment finance) funds for the project. The district anticipates the project will cost $11 million.

The time line presented to the city council calls for work on the former bank building to be completed by Feb. 9, 2019.

According to Lora, here is where different segments of the administration will go:

  • Human resources and finance are going to the Operations Center near NE 23rd and I-35.
  • Student Services will move to Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, 1201 NE 48th.
  • The superintendent and her staff, including the legal department and media relations, will move to Northeast Academy, 3300 N. Kelley. (Northeast Academy only needs one floor.)

The information technology department will stay in their small, former elementary building and move directly to 615 N. Classen when the building is completed.

But not every administrator currently in the administration building at 900 N. Klein will eventually move into the new building at 615 N. Classen. Some departments will stay in remote locations around the district.

Prime location?

Randall said the district is already fielding inquiries on the administration building and the elementary south across the street where the IT department is located.

“We’ve talked to a couple of different entities that have expressed interest perhaps for housing,” said Randall. “It’s a great location as far as close to downtown. They’ll have the property all the way from Klein to Western.”

New administration building
Former bank building at 615 N. Classen being converted to new admin building

He was reluctant to comment however about what the board might do in terms of limitations on the sale.

Some district properties have been sold in the past without many claw back provisions only to regret it later.

The former Douglass High School, later Page Woodson Middle School, was a successful sale of surplus property that Randall believes is a good model.

The district sold the property to investors with the provision of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority supervising the development to insure the project would serve the surrounding community.

And most importantly, OCURA established a timeline for developing the property.

“It takes a unique developer to be able to come into a building and really have a vision,” Randall said about converting old school buildings.

Randall expects the process of appraisal and board action to take anywhere from 30 to 45 days, but that is not a hard number because of all of the variables in the process.

OKCPS administration building - east exposure
OKCPS administration building – east exposure

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