View Full Version : Crooked Oak Schools May Have To Call The Orkin Man

08-31-2006, 11:06 PM
Old Paris Flea Market faces extermination
By Jesse Olivarez
The Oklahoman

Anyone who has shopped at the Old Paris Flea Market has probably encountered Mike Fowler.

For the past 20 years, Fowler has earned a living selling hand and power tools at the market on weekends. For Fowler, 60, the casual interaction with customers and no-pressure sales environment allows him to do what he does best -- talk.

For him, it's the preferred way of doing business.

"I sell this way because I love meeting people," he said. "It's mentally healthy for me and I get to learn from them and they from me. I just love meeting people." Fowler's way of doing business may soon come to an end if the Crooked Oak School District has its way.

Last week, the Crooked Oak School Board authorized Superintendent Shannon Goodsell to begin making offers to purchase five properties immediately north of the school. One of the properties district officials want to purchase is the Old Paris Flea Market, 1111 S Eastern Ave.

Goodsell said the property will be needed because the district is looking to add a new high school to help ease the strain caused by overcrowding. He said MAPS for Kids funds would be used to purchase the properties and that offers would be made within the next two weeks.

If an agreement cannot be reached with the property owners, Goodsell said the district would use its right of eminent domain to gain control of the lots. Rodney Wood, the market's manager, said he had not been contacted by the district yet but was surprised by the school board's recent action.

"This came as a shock to us," he said. "The superintendent had asked us before if we would be willing to sell, but we told him we weren't interested. I guess now we're going to have to deal with this." Wood, a member of the family that owns the Old Paris Flea Market, said a decision would not be made whether to sell or stay until district officials make their formal offer.

The market is home to about 400 businesses that sell everything from clothes to electronics, Wood said. He estimates from 800 to1,000 people are employed by the various businesses at the market. He said only a few of the vendors know about the district's recent action. He said the reaction from those who did know ranged from nervous to angry.
Fowler is one of the vendors who is upset.

He said he feels cheated by both the city and the school.

"I feel stupid," he said. "I've been paying taxes all these years to build up MAPS and now my own MAPS money is putting me out of business. I feel stupid cause I'm doing this to myself."

Another concerned business owner is jewelry repair shop owner Eugene Baker. A retired firefighter from Lawton, Baker, 56, has spent his weekends working at the market since the 1980s. Baker said the small business is his primary source of income and provides him with the funds to buy medicine for himself and his wife. He said the school's pending action has made him anxious.

"If they close this place, I'm going to be in trouble," he said. "The money I earn from here pays a lot of the financial bills I have. I guess I'll have to go home and start picking up cans for a living."

What bothers jewelry shop owner Joaquin Ruiz Jr. is what he perceives as the lack of concern by school district officials for the small businesses. He said his family has faithfully paid taxes while occupying a booth at the flea market.

Ruiz said the district's decision not to consult with small business owners is frustrating.
"We've been here for 20 years," he said. "Where is the compensation for the vendors that have been here?"

Although he sympathized with the vendors, Goodsell said the school has no alternatives.
"It is a regrettable situation," he said. "If we could have gone another route, we would have. Old Paris has been a big part of this community for many years and we hate having to do this, but ultimately the needs of students come first."

Although he hopes an agreement will be reached with the school, Fowler said he is going to prepare for the worst.

"I would have liked to die here but I guess I can't now," he said. "You can't fight city hall."

08-31-2006, 11:18 PM
Crooked Oak Schools: one of Oklahoma's 560 school districts which we can do without.

They're just a vestigial organ of our 'seperate but equal' past. Consolidate them into OKC or MWC.

08-31-2006, 11:34 PM
What where they an all black school at one time?

I do agree with you on the issue of too many school districts. I think we need to go down to 77 to 100 school districts (The district could be based in the county seat.)OKC Tulsa and Lawton could retain there districts because they are so large. If nothing else I think the state needs to pass a law that says you need to have at least 100 students in your graduating senior classes to be considered a school district.

Then again every time downsizing is brought up the school boards scare the parents with the excuse "Your local school will close if you consolidate. You will lose a say so in your kids education."The key is to keep school houses open if anything open more. Every child in Oklahoma should be no more than a 10 minute drive from there school. What needs to be done is a consolidation on the management side. Close the administration buildings and pass down the basic district decisions and authority to the teachers and principals.

Every major corporation has trimmed down the management at the middle and at the top and has witnessed amazing results. The people on the ground make the needed improvements without having to deal with the administration every time. It also allows each location to tailor everything to their specific needs.

09-01-2006, 01:54 PM
It's sad to see Old Paris might have to close down. Yet it's seems obvious since the place sits next to the Native American Museam which I think is under construction. The place has sit there for many years and it seems that the flea market which I see more of a marketplace than a full-fleged flea market. After all, the place has been badly managed for years. The parking is horrible, pot holes and you have no idea where to park since there aren't any lines indicating so. The bathrooms are discusting.

I see a need for the school to expand. But I don't see it reasonable to have it annexed and brought into the OKC public school district which isn't a very good school district. I happen to have graduated from an Oklahoma City public school. One of my high school teachers had a great idea about the school district. Since it's so large he had the idea of the district separating into four quadrants of what makes Oklahoma City and naming these districts with the respective quadrants such as Southwest Oklahoma City Public Schools so it could possibly managed better.

09-01-2006, 02:05 PM
okcitian, so you think that the reason OKC is poorly managed is because of its size?

09-01-2006, 02:31 PM
i'll start by saying that i'm not a big fan of eminent domain. of course it has valid applications, but it should be used only when no other reasonable alternatives exist.

the notion that the 'school has no alternatives' seems to me to be a bit dishonest. i don't see why it's absolutely necessary that crooked oak must house k-12 all in one location. perhaps that's the way they prefer to manage things, but i don't think that eminent domain should be used simply to accommodate their existing management style. why can't this highschool be located within a mile away?

i have one problem with the wording in the above article. it states that crooked oak would use 'its' right of eminent domain. no school system has such rights as far as i know... it's the city that holds the power in this situation. it decides whether or not the forced sale of the property is in the public's best interest. i'm probably just nitpicking, but it bugged me. -M

09-01-2006, 03:36 PM
I don't see OKC public school system as being mismanaged from its size but more of the potential corruption of the administration. If it were cut in four it would seem like a courrupted monopoly getting cut in four companies such as what happend to Bell as it was cut into regions. The good things about the school district has been that it was built some new schools (MAPS for kids funds?) and it Classen is a very well performing high school.