TPS Continues To Discuss Ways to Cut $12 Million

Monday, May 1st 2017, 11:05 pm
By: Justin Shrair

Tulsa Public Schools is making adjustments to the timeline regarding budget recommendations.

As the district figures out how to cut $12 million, the two different recommendations Monday night included staffing and district office changes.

"My name is Cingh Kim and I am 10 years old. When I first came here I could only say yes and no," one student said at Monday’s meeting.

Cingh Kim goes to Park Elementary - one of several schools that could be closed. She was one of several students who attended Monday’s meeting.

School leaders presented two different recommendations to the public - reductions to district operations and changes to the school staffing plan.

District changes could include cutting 60 positions and creating or reconfiguring 34 new positions, cutting a total of 26.

"It’s not good because those people have children and families to take care of," said Nancy Leonard with the American Federation of Teachers.

The second change is a proposed staffing plan that could include decreasing the number of reserve teaching positions in half and increasing the high school student to teacher ratio to 33 students per teacher.

Superintendent Deborah Gist said, "This is a situation that is so serious, that is so serious that it’s really hard to share with people the magnitude of what’s happening."

Joyce Smith Williams has grandchildren in the Tulsa Public Schools system. One of her concerns is that the school board may not fully take into consideration the public’s opinions.

"Talk about having community input, but there’s always the appearance that the input is for hearing and not for enacting or reacting," she said.

Gist said it’s going to take a team effort to try to fix the situation.

"It is a very bad situation, and were gonna have to all act together to turn it around," she said.

In mid-May, there will be a special board meeting where final recommendations for the budget reductions will be presented.

Both recommendations would produces more than $3 in savings according to the budget update - the reductions to district office operations would save $2.2 million and changes to school staffing would save $1.6 million.