TPS Considers Changing Start Times, Cuts To Athletics To Save Money

Thursday, April 21st 2016, 6:30 pm
By: News On 6

Thursday, Tulsa Public Schools announced a new two-part plan to cut costs. The district hopes to tweak schedules for all of its schools, and also cut some sports programs.

If the plan passes, elementary students will start earlier and middle school and junior high students will start later.

Is 7:30 too early for elementary school students to start class? So far parents have mixed reactions.

"That's pretty early, I think. That's my gut feeling," parent Scott Griffith said.

What if it saved Tulsa Public Schools more than $1 million?

"If it saves that much money, it's not going to be that bad. It's not going to impact us," parent Kari Wing said.

Under the plan, elementary schools would start 15 minutes earlier, 7:30 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.; any combined campuses and magnet schools would go from 8:30 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.; and middle schools, junior highs and alternative schools would start half an hour later, 9:15 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.

The district will take the new schedule plan to the school board next week.

Not only will it save a whopping million; according to Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist, it also makes the bus routes more efficient - fewer buses will be needed and there's a driver shortage anyway.

"While people don't like when there has to be a modification to their schedule, and it can be inconvenient and we fully understand that, people know that right now we have to find every savings opportunity that we have," she said.

The district will also reduce sports positions - swimming, golf, tennis and cross country will lose some coaches and any sports trip more than 75 miles away won't be allowed unless a booster club pays for it.

All of this saves more than $200,000.

Gist said, "What we're trying to do is make sure students have the opportunity to participate in sports, but in a way that reduces the number of teams, therefore, the number of coaching stipends, but also travel to away games and some other expenses."

The district will vote on the schedule changes next Wednesday. They'll also hold meetings about other budget cuts next week.