July 26, 2008

OSU Seeks Arts High School

By Susan Simpson, The Oklahoman

Jul. 26--TULSA -- Oklahoma State University is partnering with a Tulsa family that has a dream of a visual and performing arts high school open to students from across the state.

OSU Regents on Friday agreed that OSU's College of Education can pursue sponsorship of the Oklahoma School for the Visual and Performing Arts.

The residential school would be open to about 200 artistic and academically gifted high school juniors and seniors. State law was amended in 2006 to let universities sponsor certain charter schools.

"We are poised to serve as a leader in the state and we have the capacity as well as the interest and knowledge to support a school such as this," said OSU College of Education Dean Pamela Fry.

As its sponsor, OSU will receive 2 percent of all the school's revenues as a fee for the administrative and consulting services it provides.

The idea for the arts school came from the family of retired Tulsa oilman and philanthropist John Brock, whose grandson praised the benefits of attending Summer Arts Institutes at Quartz Mountain. Brock and his son-in-law, David Downing, began exploring formation of a year-round school.

How school could be funded The school will seek about $5 million each year in direct state appropriations through legislation. Downing says the goal is for the state to cover the entire cost of each student's education through public funding, as it currently does for the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics in Oklahoma City.

Another $20 million would be raised from private sources for land and building costs, Downing said.

If state appropriations are ready by next summer, the school could take its first junior class in fall 2011. No location has been chosen but Downing would like the school to be near downtown Tulsa.

The arts emphasis would include painting, sculpting, photography, acting, dance, writing and music, both instrumental and vocal.

"The arts are a very important part of our life and culture," Fry said. "We'd reach so many students that otherwise might not be able to develop their talents."


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