Tulsa Leaders Working To Find Solution To School Funding Crisis

Friday, April 14th 2017, 11:04 pm
By: News On 6

A major partnership is in the works to help public education in Tulsa. The Tulsa City Council and the Tulsa School Board will meet next week to discuss solutions to fund schools.

It's been called a crisis - schools managing budgets while dealing with the loss of millions of dollars in state aid. Now, some of your local leaders are saying enough is enough, and they don't want your kids’ education to be in jeopardy any longer.

"We can go as long as we want just being angry and waiting for Oklahoma City to step up, but, in the end, it may be on us," said Tulsa City Councilor Anna America.

The council chairwoman met with area superintendents this week when they got word their districts were getting even less money this month than they thought.

America said, "They were getting texts saying 'you just lost another couple hundred thousand dollars this month."

While there are proposed budgets that would supposedly create more revenue to pay for school, America said, “There's absolutely nothing that we’re hearing from Oklahoma City that gives us any reason to think that next year will be better."

So, she said the rhetoric needs to change.

“I think, for a while, we all tried to act nice about that and act like, 'Well, they're trying.' They're not.  They're not doing their job," America said.

In a rare meeting, the entire TPS board and city council are getting together to find solutions.

"We need these schools to be strong, for the city to be strong, and we know that," America said.

An idea floating around is to combine shared responsibilities - the City is hiring new police officers, and America said perhaps they could help with security on TPS property.

It’s an attempt to find opportunities where the City can help reduce costs; desperate to help kids and find ways to keep Tulsa attractive to entrepreneurs and small business who like living here but question the support of public schools.

"What are you going to do to make sure that we have a well-trained workforce, and we can't answer that because we can't do that right now with what's happening in Oklahoma," America said.

A last resort would be to ask voters to approve a local sales tax increase - that revenue would be reserved for local public education.

The two groups will get together next Wednesday, and, if you want to help lead, they want your ideas.