More Concerns Answered Regarding Tulsa Public Schools Budget


Wednesday, February 26th 2020, 9:00 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero


Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist answered questions regarding the budget shortfall and why the district has to restructure the Indian Education program.

"Our whole intention in this is to hold on to those services as best we can under the circumstances we have," said Gist.

News On 6 also spoke to Cheryl Cohenour, chairman of the Grater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission. She said the biggest question from the community is - why is this federally funded program impacted by the district's $20 million budget shortfall?

"A big concern to the Native American community is that they were changing the program so radically," said Cohenour.

Gist said the reshaping of the program was based on the decrease in enrollment in the district.

"In this instance, it was a reduced budget for that one office, increased cost for that one office, and that resulted in our inability to keep the status quo. We had to make changes," Gist said. 

When asked what could happen to the faculty who learned their position would be cut, Gist said, "we made sure this was not about them."

“This was not about their performance. They are valued members of our team and we will be side by side with them to encourage them to apply for positions within their district and within their office," Gist said.

Cohenour said thinks TPS did a poor job to keep attendance up.

"It is TPS's responsibility to get that enrollment and to get those forms out to the parents so they can provide the services they need to," said Cohenour. 

Gist said the enrollment comes from the district as a whole. She hopes these meetings and the heightened awareness in the media will help educate the public.

"I'm confident that we will have something to represent to the board of education in March that's going to move us forward in very positive ways," Gist said.

Gists said there will be enrollment forms available at tonight's meeting as well as a survey for people to fill out.

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