TPS May Close Schools If Hit With More Budget Cuts

Thursday, March 23rd 2017, 7:33 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Big changes, including school closings, could be on the table for Tulsa Public Schools if expected budget cuts come to pass.

Superintendent Deborah Gist met with lawmakers Thursday morning to not only get the latest from them but also to relay the impact budget cuts will have here.

Gist said she told lawmakers Tulsa would have to cut teachers and possibly close schools to handle a budget cut now projected at $12 million,  and not knowing the number until June makes it worse.

"We're in the very difficult position of building a budget without having the information we need to do it," Gist said. 

But they do have this number, the daily operating cost, with almost 40,000 students, just short of $1 million a day - $995,000.

But Gist said as they look at the district and the savings they'll have to find closing some buildings is on the list of options.

"One of those is looking at school building and facilities, so we're looking at where schools are, the populations and whether any of those might be underutilized," Gist said. 

The state has cut per-pupil school funding consistently for the last ten years.

This year, more cuts came mid-year. For Tulsa, in January, $474,000. February, two cuts, $402,000 and $2 million.

Just before spring break, another $900,000 cut from this year's budgets.

Gist said the district continues to cut administration and programs, but now has to go beyond trimming a few teaching positions.

"We have to do even more dramatic things because other things have been exhausted by the this point, and it's a terrible position to put a community in, but that's where we are," Gist said. 

While the district might not find out the actual cut for two more months, if next year is like this one, even that can change dramatically as the school year goes on.