Name: John Croisant
Occupation: Allstate agent
Lived in District 5 for: About three years
Education: Bachelor's degrees in secondary education and political science from University of Tulsa
Campaign website: www.johncroisant.com
Why are you running for the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education District 5 seat?
As a former teacher and soccer coach at Edison for 12 years and a parent of an Edison student, I am uniquely qualified to understand what is going on in TPS and will work to help fix not only the current budget shortfalls, but also help our schools create a long-term plan to attract students back into the district by offering the best educational opportunities to all of our students in Tulsa.
What are your primary goals and objectives as a board member if elected?
My primary goal as a board member will be to improve the education that every student in TPS is receiving. School boards should always be thinking of what is best for students first. I also want to make sure funds are being spent efficiently at the administrative level and that we are focusing our dollars and energy into the classroom.
Retaining and attracting quality teachers and giving those teachers the resources to be successful is also extremely important. The arts, athletics, foreign languages, the use of technology and a variety of different teaching methods have to be available to students along with core courses. Making sure our schools are student-focused and reflect the diversity in our city is essential.
How has your background/experience prepared you to succeed in this role?
I am a graduate of the University of Tulsa with degrees in political science and secondary education and have experience teaching in both public and private schools in New Orleans and Tulsa. I spent my last 12 years teaching and coaching at Edison, before retiring from teaching in 2018 to open my own insurance agency.
I have 20 years of coaching experience, 16 years of classroom teaching experience, and with a sixth-grader currently attending Edison Middle School, I feel I am uniquely qualified to represent parents, teachers, students and the citizens of Tulsa on our school board. My experience supporting public schools gives me a great insight to help me as a board member.
After weeks of collecting public input, Tulsa Public Schools is preparing to slash $20 million from its 2020-21 budget as a result of declining enrollment and a decade of state funding cuts to education. Part of Superintendent Deborah Gist’s proposal to the school board involves shutting down four elementary schools. One of those is Wright Elementary, which is located in District 5.
The proposal has drawn the ire of many families and community members, but TPS officials insist the closures are necessary for the district to operate within its continued fiscal restraints. How do you think TPS has handled the situation, and do you believe the recommendation is the right move?
Closing schools is always one of the last choices that the community would like to see. Although the district and the school board has had many open meetings and met with parents with each of the schools impacted, I would have liked to have seen more information made public earlier.
That includes what cuts are being made at the district level, which makes up 75% of the cuts that are being made. I do believe closing Wright has rubbed many people the wrong way, especially with plans to rent out the school to a charter school. Editor's note: Gist maintains no decisions have been made about the future use of the school buildings if they are closed, though she hasn't dismissed the possibility of leasing them to district-sponsored charter schools.
Enrollment at TPS has declined by about 5,000 students in the past decade. State data shows most students who left ended up in surrounding school districts and a variety of charter schools. What steps should TPS take to reverse its enrollment decline?
We have amazing teachers and students in Tulsa Public Schools. However, we are not giving every student the same opportunities that surrounding districts are offering. We need to expand successful programs, like immersion, Montessori, demonstration academies and concurrent enrollment for high school students, as well as expanding the arts and athletics opportunities.
By offering more programs and giving our teachers more opportunities to be creative and supported in their classroom, we can start to change the tide that is taking students out of our district.