TPS Varsity Sports Will Continue, Other Sports Canceled If Teacher Walkout Occurs
TULSA, Oklahoma - We are two weeks away from the deadline that the Oklahoma Education Association gave lawmakers to come up with a way to fund a teacher pay raise and provide more money for schools.
Monday, Tulsa Public Schools released a plan for students if the walkout occurs.
TPS has more than 250 senior student athletes participating in spring sports.
Administrators thought it would be unfair to eliminate their final season. However, they are eliminating junior varsity events for the rest of the season if teachers walk out on April 2nd.
John Potocnik, a teacher and coach at Booker T. Washington, says "a lot of them kind of agree with the teachers that something needs to be done."
Potocnik says he's worried not only about his athletes, but also his students.
"The AP students are a little worried because of the testing that is coming up," said Potocnik.
Like many teachers who also coach, Potocnik puts in a lot of time in the classroom and on the field.
But it's difficult for him to think that his JV team could be playing their last game of the season next week.
"That could put them behind, development-wise, but I understand that we have to make sacrifices,” stated Potocnik. “At least they will have a few more years to be able to participate."
Michael Bateman, a sophomore and JV baseball player, says "this is preparing us for like the later moments in our career when we are going to need to step up our game against other teams, and it’s hard to like get to that if you don't get a lot of play time."
Bateman is one of several JV athletes who will still be able to practice with varsity but not play in games. The district wanted to continue varsity athletics so that recruiters can see seniors play.
TPS Athletic Director Gil Cloud says "we have 255 senior student athletes. This is it for them. If they are playing a spring sport and they think they might matriculate to a college scholarship and they don't have a season, this is a disservice to them."
Bateman says he "hope[s] that the government comes to a conclusion soon enough that we won’t lose too much of our school year and that we can just get back to regular."
Cloud says practices will not start until after 3:30 because that is the end of most teachers’ contract day.
Again, just to be clear, the sporting events will only be eliminated if the teachers walk out.