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Lean Months Ahead For Tulsa Public Schools

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Tulsa Public Schools is making a number of changes in light of its decreasing budget. Tulsa Public Schools is making a number of changes in light of its decreasing budget.
Tulsa Public School superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard said the district is now in a hiring freeze. Tulsa Public School superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard said the district is now in a hiring freeze.

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK --  Tulsa Public Schools is getting less money from the state and that in turn means deep cuts to the district's current budget.

TPS announced plans for furloughs and layoffs Friday that will impact everyone from administrators to teachers to janitors.

It's because of a drop in state funding - that's a $1 million less than budgeted - just for this month.

The district plans to start furloughs this school year for everyone but teachers. They'll escape furloughs, but some will be laid off in the next school year.

How many?  The superintendent isn't sure.

A clearly frustrated school superintendent said TPS has few options left.

"The state has mandates in place for us to provide education services to kids, but they are clearly not funding those," said Dr. Keith Ballard, Tulsa Public Schools superintendent.

TPS has lost $2.5 million in funding since the start of the year - and is on a pace to lose $8 million by the end of the year.

"If this budget plays out the way I have forecast it today, there absolutely will be loss of jobs, there absolutely will be layoffs," Ballard said.

Ballard says it's almost impossible to lay off teachers in the middle of year, so they're safe for now.

The district's immediate cutbacks include a hiring freeze and eliminating paid substitute teachers.  There will be furloughs for administrators and support personnel.

Next year, the district plans to cut teachers - but the number to be cut is uncertain.

The district says each teacher cut would save the district an average of $45,000 a year. The administration and support employee furloughs will save $130,000 each day.

Ballard says while teachers will escape furloughs this year, for the next budget, they'll have to be cut.

"Then for next year, the non-renewal of contracts is where you will see a significant loss of jobs and there will be a significant loss of jobs,” he said.

“Make no mistake, class sizes will go up in the district with this kind of reduction, that will happen."

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