Tulsa Teacher Union Wants To Avoid Job Cuts

Thursday, September 17th 2009, 6:00 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association says cutting teachers should be a last resort as the school district deals with reduced funding.  The bulk of TPS' budget goes towards the salaries of 3,100 teachers.

It's still early, but the teacher's union says it hopes the budget will bounce back before positions are eliminated.  The school already wincing from cutbacks in state funding is set to take another hit.

09/17/2009 Related Story: Tulsa Schools Expects Cut Of $8 Million For Year

"It's going to be hard this year for our teachers," said Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Denzel Kesterson.

It may be too early to tell, but words that get tossed around during budget cuts include furloughs, hiring freezes, and wage cuts.

Kesterson says they have always been able to do without furloughs and he doesn't believe there will be any this time.

"As far as cutting substitutes and having teachers cover for other teachers that may be a possibility. I don't want to speculate right now but we did that in '02 and it makes it very difficult for our teachers to have no time during the day to even breathe," said Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Denzel Kesterson.

But, the money has to come from somewhere. Salaries and benefits take up nearly 83% of the school district's budget. Utilities and transportation also take a sizeable chunk.

"Right now, we already have problems with getting supplies, just getting things for our art classes and things that are out there that make school interesting, make school fun, and those are the things that get hurt first," said Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Denzel Kesterson.

As educators hope legislators will consider tapping into the rainy day fund.

"Obviously, I'm not in a position to make those decisions, but I would certainly implore state leaders to take a look at the consequences are going to be of this financial situation," said Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard.

"We've gotta save the jobs. We've gotta have the teachers there to be able to cover the kids because if you don't, somebody else has to be there to pick up those kids. They've still got to be educated," said Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Denzel Kesterson.

The president of the teacher's union says they will survey with the teachers to get their input about the recent budget cuts and their opinions on how to cut back without cutting jobs.