TPS, City Discuss How To Help During Education Funding Crisis

Wednesday, April 19th 2017, 7:58 am

The City of Tulsa wants to help Tulsa Public Schools during these rough budget times.

Wednesday, the city council and school board met to talk about options but ran into questions about whether the City can give cash to TPS.

The problem is that local help would be offset by a cut in state funding, and the City wants to know if there's a way around that.

The City is not overwhelmed with extra money, but is considering whatever it can do to prop up the schools because the situation is so much worse.

The superintendent, school board, the mayor and city council talked out some possibilities for mutual aid. The City wants to help the schools with their money issues, recognizing that better schools would help the city.

12/6/2016 Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Bynum Holds Brainstorming Session With Education Leaders

City Councilor Anna America said, "If you want your park taken care of you need to be in a city that we can keep residents here, and businesses here and business can expand, and we can't do any of those things without good schools."

Leaders on the City and State level have talked about how Oklahoma's state of education is bad for business, especially a four-day school week. That is something TPS isn’t considering, instead it is bracing for possible school consolidation, athletics cuts and more.

4/18/2017 Related Story: Parents Express Concern At TPS Meeting Discussing Consolidating Schools

The City and school meeting comes as the district consolidates schools in west Tulsa because the population with children is shifting east and north.

4/5/2017 Related Story: TPS Superintendent Makes Recommendations On What To Cut

The school board told city leaders the state budget is not just being cut, but new regulations are adding to administrative costs.

City Councilors drilled into administrative spending and the perception that top staff is getting raises.

“There are some administrators getting hefty pay raises,” City Councilor Karen Gilbert said.

But Superintendent Deborah Gist said that's a reorganization with fewer people doing more.

"We're not giving people raises, in fact, the opposite is true," she said.

But the main discussion was about the depth of the problem and what support the City can offer without triggering an offset in state funding.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said, "The discussion to this point has been helpful to us at the City to learn about the problems you're dealing with."

The City already supports teachers with professional development through the Vision plan, and lets Tulsa students take transit buses for free; lawyers are researching what else the city can do.