Tulsa public schools to spend $6.2M to maintain staff levels
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Tulsa Public Schools system will spend $6.2 million in reserve funds to offset declining state aid as the district faces decreasing enrollment.
Early estimates for the 2019-20 school term show even more of a decline in state aid — $7 million, the Tulsa World reported Sunday.
TPS enrollment is expected to decline from 37,433 to 36,393 students, education officials said. State aid calculations allow districts to use enrollment data from the current or past two years, whichever is higher.
Superintendent Deborah Gist said after board approval of the budget that using reserve funds would help prevent further staff cuts. She’s been with TPS since mid-2015.
“It is a responsible thing to do right now because we have fund balance funds that are available for us to do it,” said Gist. “It allows us to keep stability in our schools and prevents us from having to do additional cuts like we’ve done every year that I’ve been here in the district.”
The district is looking at long-term budget, staff and grade-configuration planning, the newspaper reported.
“We are engaging in active conversations to understand the impact of enrollment declines and what it means for how we create viable school models that meet the needs of our students and improve working conditions for our teachers,” according to Paula Shannon, deputy superintendent.
Thousands of Oklahoma teachers this spring walked off the job for two weeks and protested at the Capitol seeking more funding for public schools and won significant increases.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com