TPS community meeting

Kathy Sebert writes down a question while her husband, Gary, both of Tulsa, listens to Tulsa Public Schools superintendent Deborah Gist during a Tulsa Public Schools community meeting at Memorial High School on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World

I am writing in response to "Trying to understand why TPS has to close schools" (Dec. 22) blaming Superintendent Deborah Gist's contract and raise for the district having to close schools.

I have served on the Tulsa Public Schools superintendent's community advisory committee, tapped to work on the name change committee, the Tulsa Beyond Project and the budget committee. It is part of Gist's work to involve community members in the TPS decision-making process.

I can vouch for Gist's very hard work and positive results at crafting a future for TPS that is inclusive and forward-thinking in spite of the impossible situation the district faces thanks to forces beyond her control (declining enrollment and lack of sufficient financial legislative support).

Rather than look at the school usage numbers and simply close the buildings under-utilized, Gist's approach is sensitive, data-driven and optimistic. She made it a priority to provide multiple opportunities for community members to contribute feedback, ideas and suggestions (and complaints) through a variety of venues (and languages).

As the current chairwoman of the Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission, I appreciate Gist making it a priority to find ways to hear Spanish-speaking families and am proud that TPS is the first district in Oklahoma to offer a bi-literacy certification for our graduates.

She has more than earned her salary and should enjoy the respect and affection of every Tulsan. I am glad that the school board recognizes and rewards her efforts.

I am excited about what the future holds for TPS under her deft leadership.

Editor's Note: Sara E. Martínez is the chairwoman for the Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission.

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