Tulsa Schools will start later this year and bus routes to change

Tuesday, July 2nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa School board takes extreme measures to balance the budget. The school district faces a $6.5-million shortfall.

A packed house attended the school board meeting Monday night. Educators, parents and school personnel all waited to see where the budget ax would fall. Superintendent David Sawyer called the situation desperate but the cuts necessary to bring spending in line with the amount given to the district by the state.

And here are some of the highlights. Students will head back to school this fall two weeks later. Classes will begin September 3rd, after the Labor Day holiday. That will save $200,000. The elimination of year-round schools will save $600,000. Changing bus routes including the incorporation of a hub system will trim $500,000 from the budget. And a decrease in pay for substitutes will save almost half a million dollars.

And that's just part of the plan. Dr. David Sawyer, "All of these recommendations together total $6,535,500 and of course that is without addressing the need for our unrestricted reserve." The cutbacks will have an impact in the classroom as well. Fewer teachers will mean larger class sizes.

The cuts don't stop there; the district is trying to rebuild its reserve fund. People we talked with say they're concerned about the decision to lower substitute teachers pay.

They say that will reach beyond the classroom. Pat Bruner, substitute teacher supporter: "I have concerns there will be a severe shortage of substitute teachers. This is really stepping on the low man on the totem pole."

Parents say they don't like the decision to downsize bus routes. They say the current system allows them to know where their kids are from the moment they get on the bus in the morning until the bus brings them home.

The district is looking to make the bus system work more like a hub where students may have to transfer buses to get to and from school.