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Substitute Teachers One Of Several Cuts Proposed At TPS

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The Tulsa Public School system has some tough decisions to make after continuing budget cuts. The Tulsa Public School system has some tough decisions to make after continuing budget cuts.
Tulsa Public Schools temporarily eliminated paid substitute teachers in 2002. Tulsa Public Schools temporarily eliminated paid substitute teachers in 2002.
Patti Ferguson of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association says getting volunteers into the classrooms will be harder for some schools than others. Patti Ferguson of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association says getting volunteers into the classrooms will be harder for some schools than others.

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- One of Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard's plans to save money is to eliminate paid substitute teachers. He says the district would save a substantial amount of money by looking for alternatives.

It was another month of bad news for Tulsa Public Schools - with another million dollars erased from its budget.

“It's a disaster,” said Patti Ferguson, vice-president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.

She admits Dr. Ballard has a tough choice to make, and among his ideas is getting rid of substitute teachers.

Related Story 11/13/2009: Lean Months Ahead For Tulsa Public Schools

“We will strongly consider eliminating all substitute teachers in the school district. We think we could realize a fairly good savings right there,” Ballard said in a press conference earlier Friday.

It's not the first time this decade TPS has eliminated substitute teachers.  In 2002, the post 9/11 economy forced cuts. The plan then, may be the same used now: asking teachers and staff to fill as substitutes and encouraging parents to volunteer.

“I think that's an excellent option, unfortunately you can't get people from the community to go into all of the schools, you have more community support for some schools than others,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson says the current agreement has teachers getting paid extra to substitute, but if the paid substitutes are eliminated the teachers would lose that additional money. But she's really worried about the toll it will take on teachers and ultimately the students.

“It's just extremely hard to be 110% like teachers need to be,” said Patti Ferguson, Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.

Read The Budget Reduction Plan Issued Friday.

“You have 25 minutes during the day for your lunch, and that's to eat, go to the restroom, wash your hands, check your mailbox and you're done - it's very fatiguing.”

In the end, she says, teachers would do what's necessary; she just hopes it's not a long-term solution.

“They always do what they are supposed to do, but I think it makes a tough job even tougher,” Ferguson said.

Tulsa School Board meets Monday night. The budget and Dr. Ballard's proposed cuts are expected to be a main topic.

Superintendent Keith Ballard's Letter To Employees.

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