Some TPS Educators Oppose Support Staff Cuts To Offset Budget Crisis

Monday, April 18th 2016, 10:26 pm

By: News On 6

Tulsa Public Schools will repurpose 173 jobs and reduce them to 66.

They aren't teaching jobs, but support staff – positions like bus drivers, custodians, mechanics and security officers.

Some educators are against the cuts, saying it would hurt both the economy and our children.

"It's a team effort to educate a child. The teachers don't do this by themselves. It takes support personnel," said the president of the American Federation of Teachers in Tulsa, Ed McIntosh.

McIntosh represents 500 educators, many of them support staff. They're concerned they'll lose their jobs in the district's effort to cut back, with the education funding crisis looming.

"We just feel like there's got to be a better way than taking jobs away," McIntosh said.

He, and members of his union, would like the school board to reevaluate money-making vendor contracts, and would rather support staff face pay freezes than layoffs.

4/1/2016 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Recommends Reduction In Administrative Staff

McIntosh said, "That's a paycheck. That's food. That's housing. That's electrical bills...Remove that and the economy takes a nose dive."

But, by cutting support staff, the district avoids losing teachers.

TPS has to shed $20 million from its 2016-2017 budget and surveyed 4,000 Tulsans on how to do so.

TPS released a statement saying:

“We could not agree more that in this incredibly difficult budget situation, the needs of our students must be our priority. While we know that the budget crisis will undoubtedly affect our students and teachers, the best way to protect classroom funding was to start our spending reductions in the central office. During the decision making process, we surveyed nearly 4,000 Tulsans to gather feedback on their funding priorities, and the community response was clear that central office administrative staff reductions were preferable to options like reducing transportation, campus security, or fine arts programs. District leadership team members are working to negotiate contract services for fiscal year 2017 and we anticipate significant savings moving forward. We are leaving no stone unturned - we have undergone a review of our contracts to identify savings with every vendor and involving every funding source. We remain committed to inspiring and preparing every student to love learning, achieve ambitious goals and make positive contributions to our world.”

"I look at it as a three-legged stool, and it's hard for that stool to be stabilized if you take one leg from it," said McIntosh.

From here, he’s asking for a meeting with the school board and Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist before they are expected to vote on cutting those 173 support staff jobs on April 25th.


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