State’s 19th largest school district expects to continue growing
Choctaw-Nicoma Park officials say the success of the school district is a clear representation of the area continuing an upward trend in all aspects.
While the rural small-town feel continues to attract residents to this region of eastern Oklahoma County, the popularity of the school district is also attracting new families to the area.
While the country-like features of the landscape throughout the area give residents a small town feel, officials say looking at the schools gives a clear indication of growth that has already occurred and is only expected to amplify in coming years.
This year is Superintendent Dr. Jim McCharen’s 17th year at the helm of the CNP School District.
He grew up in south Oklahoma City, and taught at Moore for six years before relocating to teach and coach at Choctaw in 1979.
“Almost 40 years later I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It is a great time to be a Choctaw-Nicoma Park Yellowjacket. We’re a popular district right now, and grow 75 to 100 kids a year,” said McCharen. “In 2004 we had about 4,200 kids and today we are at almost 6,000.”
CNP is the 19th largest school district in Oklahoma, and Choctaw High School is the 22nd largest high school.
“Our high school is in Class 6A, meaning one of the largest 32 in the state, which means we compete against schools much larger in everything. We go against high schools with 3,000 or 4,000 kids so we have to offer all the programs those schools offer,” said McCharen.
The district includes six elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school. Officials say they could use at least one additional school right now.
“We really need an elementary to serve the southern part of our district,” said McCharen.
As of June 30, the district had turned away 375 transfer requests from students living outside of the school district boundaries.
“Some of our schools are already at capacity and having to use portable buildings just to serve the kids living in our district. So unfortunately we have to turn away a lot of kids hoping to attend our schools,” explained McCharen.
McCharen credits the current size and rapidly increasing growth of the district to four main aspects:
1. The size of the district is larger than many realize.
“Our district is 60-square-miles and we still have a lot of undeveloped land in the district. People don’t realize we take in a lot of Midwest City residents. We go half way between Westminster and Post. You can see Carl Albert High School from where our district ends so we take in a good chunk of east Midwest City. We also take in a chunk of west Harrah. Then we go south of I-40 and bump up against Moore,” said McCharen.
2. Growth of Tinker Air Force Base.
“We have about 35 percent of our students connected with Tinker in some way. As long as Tinker is striving our district will continue to grow,” said McCharen.
3. Reputation of schools for a quality education, safety and success in athletics, academics and other activities.
“We are the place to be. As of June 30, we had already turned down 375 transfer requests into our district. We just don’t have room. We have a responsibility to take care of the growing population within our boundaries,” said McCharen.
4. The turnpike expansion.
“The last thing that just came up in the last few years that will really affect our district as well as Harrah, Luther and Jones is the new turnpike. We expect residential and commercial growth, and we’ll have to find a way to manage that,” said McCharen. “Occasionally I get a call about a new addition going in and a parent wants me to go speak against it, because surely there’s no room left in the schools. That’s not my role. We’re public schools, and we’re here to serve the public population. That’s why you build more buildings as you grow. It’s going to happen. The new turnpike will have a dramatic effect on eastern Oklahoma County.”
With the student population continuing to grow so has the workforce required to operate nine schools, a fleet of buses and a plethora of extracurricular activities.
“Obviously, with a growing student count staff increases as well. We’re up to about 375 certified staff, and then 265 support staff,” explained McCharen. “Our payroll is about $2.6 million every month. About 90 percent of our budget goes to personnel.”
For more details on CNP Schools visit www.cnpschools.org.