Parent Question:
Below is a very important question and it deserves a thoughtful answer. I’ll do my best to quickly cover the four main reasons.

"Can anyone share why it’s so important for HFAA to stay within 3-4 miles of its current location? I’m just curious as to the reasoning behind the decision!" - Tracy

Unique Mission:
At the center of the answer is the mission of HFAA: to prepare students for college in an academically challenging, arts-integrated environment. HFAA was founded as the first OK A+ high school and our board and faculty are committed to making the A+ Essentials Framework an integral part of not just our curriculum, but how students engage with the curriculum. We have been intentionally refocusing on our core mission, which is what fueled our students' success and made us a Nat'l Blue Ribbon School in the first place.

Community Partners:
The focus isn’t about staying geographically close to where we are now, it’s in large part about staying close to community partners in the visual and performing arts that help us leverage our overlapping missions and provide opportunities for our students and teachers to grow and thrive. When our founders originally looked for a location, they intentionally picked this area due to its closeness to organizations such as theaters, museums, artists, and music venues. They wanted to place our school close to the renaissance of OKC. We don’t want to pull back from this, we want to grow and expand access and partnerships.

Parent Choice & Equity:
Fifty years ago OKCPS had almost 70,000 students. Today enrollment is only 40,000. Where did all those students go? Not to charter schools, we're new, but parents did choose other schools. School choice has always existed, but only for those who had the finances to pay for school or move to another district. Our mission doesn’t care if you have the finances or not, and it doesn’t ask families to wait for a 5-10 year plan of improvement. Our founders believed strongly in providing a high-quality parent choice in the heart of OKC. Families for over 30,000 students already left, but we’re here for both those who can’t leave and to be a part of OKC’s renaissance by bringing families back!

Our Current Families:
We mapped all our current students to clearly identify where our families live and help guide our decisions as we move into the future. We discovered that 80% of our students live south of Britton Road and 87% live west of I-235. Even if our mission, community partners, and choice equity weren’t important then we still had the realization that moving HFAA 15-20 minutes away from our current location would pose a huge burden on the families HFAA currently serves, many of whom already don’t have the economics or time to make that trip twice daily. Interestingly, those percentages hold true even when we ran the numbers back five years.

Don't look to be halfway good at ten things; strive to be great at one.

Every school of choice with a unique mission will naturally have different answers for each of these and therefore their solutions and goals will be different as well. All four of the above actually go hand-in-hand with why the boards of two amazing schools (HFAA & HCP) intentionally never combined into one school with two different tracks, and it’s why we are now forging our own paths rather than moving to the same building (Centennial is also smaller than the Harding Building). Parent choice and each of our missions are not about being just another good cookie cutter school, they are about bridging a gap and filling a need. Our missions will naturally overlap in many areas, we’re both schools who agree with our parents that our children are capable of so much more. But we also recognize we’re not in competition with any other school or district, we are only in competition with the circumstances and challenges that face our students and their families. We don’t want to be halfway good at everything, want to be great for the students and families drawn to our missions.

Sincerely,
Barry Schmelzenbach
Superintendent

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