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The case to split

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At just over 3,500 students, the Broken Arrow Senior High School is pushing capacity.  Easily the largest school in the state, BA suffers more drawbacks than advantages with its multitude of students and, if the trend continues, Broken Arrow’s student body will become unmanageable.  

The student to staff ratio is currently imbalanced at Broken Arrow High School. Teachers, counselors, administrators, and secretaries feel daily pressure to provide an efficient education while being severely understaffed. With classrooms often housing over 30 students, students are often unable to fully envelop themselves in a subject like math, English, or science because teachers are incapable of giving each student the attention that’s needed for comprehensive learning. Anatomy and Physiology teacher Charles Bowlin has been teaching at Broken Arrow for over a decade and has seen the student size grow rapidly over the past few years.  

“I taught Pre-AP Chemistry at North [Intermediate High School] the year it closed [2014] and all my classes were large, the biggest had 39 kids, the smallest was 29,” Bowlin said. “It is possible [with large classes] to have a few students in each class that aren’t particularly motivated to learn. Fewer students would make those problems easier to deal with.”

Two high schools in the Broken Arrow district would provide both positives and negatives. Splitting up the current high school could hurt those students who might be separated from their closest friends in their junior or senior year. Sports and fine arts students would be split up, and fan bases of those teams and groups would also split up, losing the unity of one BA fan base.

“I think there is a lot of pros and cons to it,” said BA junior Christa Smith. “Not all the students would be together which would be hard, but it would also be nice because there would be more room resulting in less parking issues and other problems caused by the amount of students.”

On the other hand, the positives of two high schools in the district outweigh the negatives. Smaller class sizes, better opportunities for more students to participate in athletics and fine arts, and a more intimate student body are all benefits to creating a second, separate high school. Since Broken Arrow is so large and growing at a rapid pace, a third high school is also being considered, but the addition of a second high school that is unaffiliated with the current one is the first step that Broken Arrow needs to make in realizing that there must be a split among BA students; there are simply too many.

“As we sit today, we have over 3,500 students trying to function on this campus,” Broken Arrow HS Data Processor Elizabeth Haynes said. “There is no way students aren’t getting lost in the shuffle. We are busting at the seams.”

Funding is another issue for the Broken Arrow high school, particularly because BA is in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma legislature fails to provide enough money for small districts across the state. Broken Arrow, with its enormous size, is severely lacking funds. If Broken Arrow were in the state of Texas, where schools are funded much more efficiently, it would be the fourth largest high school in the state. Broken Arrow can not function in its current state with the funds it is receiving.

“Regardless of the direction BA eventually goes, unless Oklahoma legislature can be populated with courageous supporters of education, all Oklahoma schools will continue to decline,” Bowlin said when asked of Broken Arrow’s funding predicament.

In the end, Broken Arrow is one of the strongest districts in the state, and has proved that through excelling in different aspects of educational and extracurricular activities. BA is home to so many talented, creative, and ambitious students. Creating a second high school would only improve the opportunities of its students.

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The case to split