Tulsa Public School consider Indian education budget cuts
TULSA – Recommendations to cut $18 million to $20 million from the Tulsa Public Schools’ 2020-21 fiscal year budget includes a reorganization of its Indian Education Program, where seven resource advisers were notified that their jobs were in jeopardy if the TPS board of education approved the proposed changes.
According to a Tulsa World article, the reduction comes from Superintendent Deborah Gist’s “Shaping Our Future” plan to help avoid a deficit in the 2020-21 budget. In the Tulsa World article, TPS officials said they have to restructure the program because of a decline in Native American students.
The Indian Education Program receives federal funding through the Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee nations’ Johnson-O’Malley programs, as well as from CN motor vehicle tax funds, which provide educational services and supplemental programs to Native students, according to tulsaschools.org
The seven resource adviser positions would be replaced by three student specialist positions to provide expanded year-round services for students, create a customer care association position for Indian education, and increase the number of teacher assistants from four to eight who can provide academic and cultural support to Native students, the Tulsa World article states.
According to tulsaschools.org, the Indian Education Program supports and provides services to more than 3,000 Native students representing 68 tribes.
In a Feb. 10 update on tulsaschools.org, TPS officials said, “Over the last four years, we have worked to align our district office team structures to best meet the needs of our school leaders, teachers, and families. Recently, we recommended a district-wide reduction in force related to our Budget Redesign effort. Our goal is to manage our financial challenges while maintaining or even improving our services. One of the teams identified for changes is our Indian Education office. Our goal is to enhance and maximize direct student services as we manage a decrease in our federal funding.”
The update adds that TPS officials have met with parents, families, students, community members and tribal leaders about the proposed changes and will spend February to conduct a survey, host information sharing meetings with parents, engage in tribal consultation from the Cherokee, (Muscogee) Creek and Osage nations, and pursue conversations with additional Native American stakeholder groups.
The timeline for the proposed changes was extended to mid-March from mid-February.
“We are deeply committed to implementing culturally sustaining curricula, providing after-school tutoring, and affirming and celebrating our students’ Native American heritage and identities while preparing them for success in college and careers,” according to the Feb. 10 update from TPS officials.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the CN is committed to working with TPS to ensure Native students’ educations and services within the school system are met.
“That commitment involves quarterly consultations with tribes, the school system conducting a survey, meeting with Native stakeholders, continuing monthly JOM parent meetings and ensuring there is not a reduction in staff that support our Native students,” he said. “Tulsa Public Schools educates more than 1,000 Cherokee students alone and employs Cherokee citizens. We always want to ensure our tribal citizens students’ needs are met and Cherokee jobs are protected.”
A total of 174 positions in the school’s district are considered for elimination. At a Feb. 13 board meeting, the vote to eliminate was tabled to a later meeting.