Back To School Rally Held For Tulsa Public School Teachers

Monday, August 17th 2009, 1:06 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - It's a new school year and there are new adjustments for students and staff at Tulsa Public Schools.  Classes will begin on Thursday for students at traditional calendar schools.  What can parents expect when their kids head out the door and back into the classroom?

On Monday, TPS educators and employees rallied at the Mabee Center.  The word used most frequently to describe the upcoming new year was change.  

Changes are in place for the new school year.  

"This is my 12th year here. And, I have seen a lot of changes and this is the first time I've seen the degree of positive changes," said Jeanne Pease, Memorial High School teacher.

Changes that affect everyone. The most notable?  The start and end time for middle and high schools.

Most middle schools begin at 8:30 a.m. and get out at 3:30 p.m. High school students are looking at a school day from 9:10 a.m. to 4 in the afternoon.  

Special education teacher Jeanne Pease says they've had to make adjustments for the new schedules.

"The high school doesn't have before and after school care. So, what we've done is assign some of our paraprofessionals to start their day earlier to meet the needs of those students," said Jeanne Pease, Memorial High School teacher.

"I have kids in high school. And, they do do much better later in the day. They don't do well early in the morning at all," said TPS Spokeswoman Tami Marler.

The new school start times will help T-S cut bus routes and save the district $500,000.

"We did have to do some things to really look at cost and to cut costs wherever we could because the money is just not flowing anywhere right now," said TPS Spokeswoman Tami Marler.

Another change is school lunch prices. They are slightly up.

"It is still relatively cheap and you would really, I think, parents would really be surprised at how many families actually qualify for free or reduced lunch prices," said TPS Spokeswoman Tami Marler. 

Superintendent Keith Ballard says the overall changes will make for a better school year.

"They can expect the teachers to be on target every single day. No time wasted. That we're all on the same page. That we are all very motivated and recognize that we have a finite number of days in order to make a difference," said Superintendent Keith Ballard.

Another possible big change, TPS is one of 10 remaining applicants in the running for a $55 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.   Superintendent Ballard says the top five could be narrowed down soon.