Tulsa Area School Superintendents Discuss Ways To Save Money

Thursday, April 28th 2016, 7:37 am
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa area school districts have a common problem - they're on the verge of hiring teachers for next year as they downsize and increase class sizes.

That was the common theme out of a superintendent's meeting Thursday morning, where they urged parents to get involved with legislators.

Tulsa's Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted the forum of public school superintendents who represented the leadership of ten districts in and around Tulsa.

They all face the problem of having to trim staff to match the drop in dollars for the classroom.

Sand Springs Superintendent, Dr. Lloyd Snow said, "It just breaks my heart that we're losing talented teachers in this state and we're losing them for the wrong reasons because we're not stepping up and investing in them and the difference that they make."

Several superintendents noted their patrons vote for taxes while lawmakers insist tax cuts are more important.

“There is a disconnect because our public, via the bond issues, they support it; so our people support education and believe in the future,” said Dr. Rick Kibee with Catoosa Public Schools.

The budget crisis is magnified in Tulsa because of the size of the district.

On Wednesday, the Tulsa Public School board approved the elimination of a number of support positions, adjusted school start times and limited the travel budget for the district's athletic programs.

4/27/2016 Related Story: Tulsa School Board Approves Schedule Changes, Athletic Program Cuts

The school board votes next week on a plan to downsize by 142 teachers, by increasing class sizes.

One spokesperson said the $200 cut per student this year, with another next year, are cutting into the bone of services. Another said the financial crisis is leading to a downgrade of bond ratings which will cost tax payers more.

TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said, “We need everyone to speak up and say that, as a state and community, we can't move forward unless we invest in education.”

They've also indicated more cuts are coming including some teacher positions.

Bixby's superintendent, Dr. Kyle Wood, got a few laughs by joking about cutting toilet paper, but is seriously is asking parents to start providing the most basic supplies.

“To provide it when they're able, and that's what we're asking them to do in Bixby. But in no way would that ever be required, and I don't think that's appropriate,” he said.

Wood said he's very concerned about asking public school students to provide so much that it's essentially a fee.

The superintendents talked a lot Thursday about how they're doing things they could have never imagined.