Tulsa Schools Expects Cut Of $8 Million For Year

Thursday, September 17th 2009, 10:47 am
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Scott Thompson, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The budget crunch has made its way to Tulsa Public Schools.  The district will have to make massive cuts this year after learning it will be getting less money from the state.  On Thursday morning, TPS officials put out the warning that the budget is in trouble and nearly everything will get a second look.

It was the announcement heard around the district. 

Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard disclosed that Tulsa Public Schools is taking a severe hit to this year's budget to the tune of $500,000 a month.  By the end of the fiscal year, the total could be close to $10 million in lost money.

"It's very scary right now," said parent Stephanie Beard.

"It's not the worst right now, but if the predictions are carried out, if the predictions come about then it will absolutely be the worst," said TPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard.

Dr. Ballard says the district is now forced to look at making cuts across the school system.

Among the possibilities are slashes to every department budget, continue the hiring freeze, furloughs, restrict out of district travel, and eliminate overtime.  The superintendent says cuts to anything going on in the classroom or teachers will be last on the list but is not completely eliminated.

"My recommendation to the board will be that we do all we can to spare the classroom, but there's no doubt that we will be getting into teacher cuts sometime around the first of the year.  If it continues like this, I think there's no doubt that would happen," said Dr. Keith Ballard.

Lenore Brown is a parent and PTA leader.

"Whatever it takes to actually equip our children or be able to experience the learning as positively as possible needs to be left in place," said parent Lenore Brown.

She says the cuts should stay clear of the classroom and encourages the school board to think of the students when making decisions.

"The children need to feel it as little as possible. The community and the administration, the parents, and the teachers are all going to have to work together to get creative," said parent Lenore Brown.

Dr. Ballard says one way to avoid the cuts is if the legislature uses the rainy day fund to help balance the state budget.  It's important to note the figures can change each month and get better or worse.