TPS Superintendent Addresses Challenges For Year Ahead In Convocation

Thursday, August 16th 2012, 5:47 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Classes begin for students Monday for Tulsa Public Schools, but the teachers and staff are already back to work, preparing for the year ahead.

Thursday, the teachers from all TPS schools heard from the superintendent about the expectations and challenges of the coming year, at the annual convocation for Tulsa Public Schools.

This year, it was broadcast live from Clinton Middle School to TPS high schools, where other teachers were gathered.

8/16/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Public And Tulsa Union Prepare For Monday's Start Of Classes

The superintendent talked about his concerns over a decline in test scores last year, but also said the district was improving with new initiatives to gauge the effectiveness of teachers and the progress of students.

But Superintendent Keith Ballard was sharply critical of the way both the legislature and the state department of education is handling the money available for education.

"State revenue increased by $650 million—great. Just give us a minuscule amount of that $50 million dollars, through the state aid formula - and I'm the one who came up with the $50 million dollar figure - to replace the stimulus funds that we lost," Ballard said.

As it ended up, Tulsa didn't get the state money but did get almost $2 million from private citizens, to hire teachers. But that doesn't keep up with what's looking like significant increases in enrollment.

Some Tulsa schools are learning they're going to have significantly more students than they were expecting, so students and some teachers could change schools, especially after the 5th day of classes, when the attendance is usually clearer than it is now.