McLain High School is the next location to host one of Tulsa Public Schools’ community engagement meetings centered on the looming $20 million budget shortfall.
The meeting will begin with a free dinner at 5:30 p.m. inside the McLain cafeteria, located at 4929 N. Peoria Ave. TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist and Chief Financial Officer Nolberto Delgadillo will kick off the conversation at 6 p.m. with a recap of why the district must slash $20 million from its 2020-21 budget.
Attendees then will engage in table dialogues around three key themes. They’ll be asked to discuss their concerns about the budget redesign effort and identify which areas they value most.
They also will analyze opportunities to develop a savings plan, such as through reducing central office services or campus police, increasing class sizes and eliminating transportation services except where required by law. School consolidations are another possibility.
Throughout the evening, participants can write down additional concerns or questions on an index card. Gist will address these comments before the meeting ends at 8 p.m.
This will be the fifth of 11 planned community engagement meetings designed to help TPS decide where funding should be reduced based on public feedback. Nine are at the city’s public high schools and include interpretation services. The other two are in Spanish, the second of which will be from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at Disney Elementary, 11702 E. 25th St.
TPS blames the budget crisis on declining enrollment and a decade of state funding cuts to education.
The McLain feeder pattern has experienced a number of school consolidations this year. Three schools — McLain Junior High, the McLain 7th Grade Academy and Penn Elementary — closed as Monroe Demonstration Academy expanded to take on every middle-schooler in the feeder pattern. Gilcrease Elementary and ECDC-Bunche also combined to create a new school called John Hope Franklin Elementary.
When school board members approved a TPS-task force’s recommendation to transform Monroe into a neighborhood school complex and the feeder pattern’s only middle school, the district agreed to a moratorium on school closures within the area.
Officials have said they will continue to honor the moratorium, though they did not clarify how long that will last.
Following the final community engagement meeting on Oct. 10, TPS will host a series of working sessions with key stakeholders in October and November to dive into the input collected from the meetings and a web-based survey that launches later this month.
Four additional community feedback events are planned for Dec. 9-13. District officials hope to present a modified budget and recommendations to the school board by Dec. 16. The new budget would be implemented in 2020-21.