Struggling School District Is Back In The Black

Friday, June 29th 2007, 5:00 pm

By: News On 6

A Green Country school district burdened with debt moves from the red to the black. Financial mismanagement put Catoosa Public Schools about $600,000 in debt, but on Friday the school board met to close the books, and they actually ended the fiscal year with a surplus. But, News On 6 education reporter Ashli Sims reports there are still questions about the fate of a popular early childhood program.

Every time Shelly Benton walks through the doors of the Tulsa Community Foundation with a bucket full of cash she's one step closer to her goal. She signed up after she saw another Catoosa mom, Marti Jackson, on a mission to raise money to save the pre-kindergarten program.

"Then I e-mailed Marti and said ok, what can I do to help," Catoosa parent Shelly Benton said.

The moms had to start fundraising because Catoosa Public Schools cut pre-K to help bail the district out of about $600,000 in debt. Benton says they raised more than $3,000 in just one night, but they're still short of their goal, and they’re waiting on some outstanding pledges.

"We feel like we're gonna meet that goal,” Benton said. “Why should these children be punished for someone else's mistakes?"

The school board decided the kids shouldn't be punished for others mistakes. They came up with a temporary solution to save the 4-year-old program. Catoosa's new superintendent Rick Kibbe negotiated a deal to bring Head Start to the district. Under the new contract, Catoosa provides the space and Head Start provides the staff. It's not exactly what Marti Jackson had hoped for, but it's still a victory.

"Not quite what I wanted but at least the kids get to go to school, that's what we wanted," said Catoosa mom Marti Jackson.

It's all proof one woman's mission can make a difference.

Catoosa laid off teachers and staff, cut programs, and sold surplus land to get back in the black. Working with Head Start allows the district to save about $30,000 on the program.

Watch the video: Pre-K Program Saved At Green Country School

Related Stories:

3/6/2007 Budget Shortfall Could Mean Fewer Teachers

3/7/2007 Teacher Layoffs Prompt Walkout

4/5/2007 School's Debt Could Lead To The Firing Of Superintendent

4/6/2007 Superintendents Job May Be Next To Go At Debt Ridden School

4/8/2007 School Superintendent Agreement Set For Vote

4/9/2007 School Board Reaches Decision Concerning Superintendent

5/15/2007 Green Country School Making Additional Budget Cuts

5/23/2007 Mother Working To Save Pre-K Classes

6/22/2007 Save Catoosa Pre-K Fundraiser

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