With school-closure rumors circulating on social media, Tulsa Public Schools said it will begin notifying families Tuesday with information about proposed changes related to budget cuts.
The district is in the process of cutting $20 million from its budget for the next school year.
TPS, which has not confirmed rumors about possible closures, plans to divulge its recommendations for cuts during community meetings next week.
“As we work to shape a viable and sustainable future for our district, we have identified some possible changes that would — if approved by our board — impact teachers, students and families at certain schools in our district,” district spokeswoman Lauren Partain said in a statement. “We intend to share more information regarding potential changes with families on Tuesday. We will share information with press after it has been shared with our families.”
Officials hosted 11 community engagement meetings through September and October and created an online survey to hear from stakeholders about how the school district should slash $20 million from next year’s budget.
The district later released a report detailing the collected feedback, showing community members largely prioritized teacher compensation, class sizes and social-emotional learning and behavioral supports. They also indicated that they were most willing to make budget reductions related to student transportation and bell times, teacher leadership opportunities, building utilization and central office services.
After completing its initial community engagement phase, TPS conducted a series of closed working sessions with key stakeholders through November to dive into the input.
Now the district plans to share the ideas formulated in these meetings with the public during a second round of community meetings at four high schools from Dec. 9 through Dec. 12.
Superintendent Deborah Gist plans to propose a modified budget for 2020-21 to the school board by the end of January. Board members are expected to vote on the recommendations around that time.
During Monday’s regular meeting, Gist said board members will be faced with a tough decision that will impact the district’s future. But she believes the current recommendations won’t leave TPS in a state of disrepair.
“Because of the community’s involvement, because of the support that we’ve gotten through this process, we have landed on some recommendations that, while difficult in so many ways, are also very doable and leave us with the ability to do so much of the additional work that we’ve heard from the community about the things that people keep as a priority for our schools and want to make sure that we hold onto,” the superintendent said. “And that’s what we wanted, which is why we called the whole process Shaping our Future and didn’t see it as just an exercise in cutting to meet a bottom line.”
District officials largely blame the $20 million deficit on declining enrollment and a decade of state funding cuts to education.
Oklahoma slashed more per-pupil funding than any other state from 2008 to 2018. TPS saw an enrollment loss of 5,000 students during that time, lessening its share of the state aid through the funding formula. The district projected a revenue loss of about $15 million from 2018-19 through the current school year.
The district has cut $22 million since 2015 and dipped into its fund balance last year for the first time in a decade to avoid a negative balance. The fund balance is on track to run out by next year, giving way to the projected deficit.
Oklahoma School Report Cards: See the grades of each TPS school
Academy Central Elementary School
Anderson Elementary School
Bell Elementary School
Booker T. Washington High School
Burroughs Elementary School
Carnegie Elementary School
Carver Middle School
Celia Clinton Elementary School
Central High School
Central Junior High School
Clinton West Elementary School
Cooper Elementary School
Council Oak Elementary School
Daniel Webster High School
Daniel Webster Middle School
Disney Elementary School
Dolores Huerta Elementary School
Dual Language Academy Elementary School
East Central High School
East Central Junior High School
Edison Preparatory Middle School
Edison Preparatory School
Eisenhower International Elementary
Eliot Elementary School
Eugene Field Elementary School
Gilcrease Elementary School
Grimes Elementary School
Grissom Elementary School
Hale High School
Hale Junior High School
Hamilton Elementary School
Hawthorne Elementary School
Henry Zarrow International School
Hoover Elementary School
Jones Elementary School
Kendall-Whittier Elementary School
Kerr Elementary School
Key Elementary School
Lanier Elementary School
Lewis and Clark Elementary School
Lindbergh Elementary School
MacArthur Elementary School
Mark Twain Elementary School
Marshall Elementary School
Mayo Demonstration Elementary School
McClure Elementary School
McKinley Elementary School
McLain High School
McLain Junior High School
Memorial High School
Memorial Junior High School
Mitchell Elementary School
Monroe Demonstration Middle School
Owen Elementary School
Patrick Henry Elementary School
Peary Elementary School
Penn Elementary School
Project Accept TRAICE Elementary School
Robertson Elementary School
Salk Elementary School
Sequoyah Elementary School
Skelly Elementary School
Springdale Elementary School
Thoreau Demonstration Academy
TRAICE High School
TRAICE Middle School
Tulsa MET High School
Tulsa MET Junior High School
Unity Learning Academy
Wayman Tisdale Fine Arts Academy
Whitman Elementary School
Will Rogers College High School
Will Rogers College Junior High School
Wright Elementary School
After a two-year hiatus, the Oklahoma State Department of Education released on Feb. 28, 2019, school report cards with a new design and a new…