Ropes Course On Chopping Block Due To TPS Budget Issues
TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa Public Schools must cut millions of dollars from its budget, and one program that teaches thousands of students about teamwork and confidence is on the cut list.
"We would love to see this continue somehow," said Julie Dunbar, an instructor at the HelmZar Challenge Course.
About 10 years ago, the Helmerich and Zarrow foundations donated the money to create the facility on an old Tulsa Public School site.
"We see every sixth and ninth grade student in TPS as part of their character education program," Dunbar said.
They do special programs too, like when Tulsa Police and kids worked through a series of challenges together following the confrontations in Ferguson, Missouri, in an effort to learn more about each other.
That is the special kind of experience HelmZar can offer and has offered to students, firefighters, police, corporate groups and church groups.
The problem is the school district - which manages the program - is under relentless pressure to make cuts, and HelmZar is on the list.
Supporters are hoping to turn the tide - some showed up at Monday's Webster High Board Meeting, and there's an online petition campaign led by Todd Huston who is fearful the end result will be extreme.
"Maybe sell these millions of dollars’ worth of equipment for pennies on the dollar as scrap metal and Tulsa loses this facility forever," he said.
What they are hoping for is time to come up with a better idea, but precious little of that left.