Cherokee Nation gives record $6 million to public schools

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
03/06/2020 10:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Adair County School superintendents accept more than $490,000 from Cherokee Nation officials to be dispersed among 10 schools as part of the annual Public School Appreciation Day hosted by the tribe on March 5 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee County Schools receive more that $920,000 for 14 school districts on March 5 at the 2020 Public School Appreciation Day at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
An info graph shows how much the Cherokee Nation has dispersed over the years in funds to public education through CN car tag sales. This year a record $6 million was given to 108 school districts. Funds were given to school officials at a March 5 luncheon at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa for Public School Appreciation Day. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TULSA - The Cherokee Nation dispersed more than $6 million to 108 schools districts at the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day on March 5. It is the largest disbursement since the tribe began its contributions in 2002.

Funds for public education are allocated through tribal car tag sales, in which 38% of revenue is earmarked specifically for education.

“It’s important because Cherokee Nation supports public education, and we should. Our communities rise and fall in large measure whether the public schools are strong. Cherokee Nation is doing its part in keeping public schools strong. Our kids go to school there. Our families grow up around these schools,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.

Public school superintendents gathered at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa for a luncheon and to receive their checks.

The money is used at the discretion of the school districts for needs such as teacher salaries, day-to-day operations, technology improvements and school programs.

“At Zion School, we’re getting about $42,000 this year and that money will be used toward technology for our students. We know that we live in a very competitive society these days. And kids have to have the technology skills to be able to compete in the world. So, we plan to use those funds for technology,” Zion Public School Superintendent Corey Bunch said.

Bunch said it’s “tough” getting the needed resources for teachers and students and any funding helps.

“It’s very tough to get the resources in the hands of the teachers and the students that they need. So, any additional resources that we can get from Cherokee Nation or other sources is greatly appreciated,” Bunch added.

Kenwood Superintendent Billy Taylor said his school plans to place their money into a general fund and use it for everyday expenses as needed. They received more than $9,000.

He added Kenwood relies on CN tag funds because of low state funding and lack of other resources.

“Funding is always difficult, especially in a small rural school like Kenwood. We have a very low tax base and so we’re very dependent on state funding, which for the most part has decreased every year until this year (when) we did get a slight increase. So, every bit of funding we get through Cherokee Nation and any grants that we can get really helps us because our funding is very limited,” Taylor said.

Funding per school district is based on the number of enrolled CN citizens though funding benefits all students, according to CN officials. In fiscal year 2019, funds equated to $192.40 per Cherokee student.

“In the last decade, the state of Oklahoma has also retreated from its investment in public education. It increased it last year and that’s going in the right direction, however, we’re still dead last in the region in per pupil spending. So, these dollars go to fill gaps, but overall, it’s just good to tell the public education community that we have your backs, and that we’re going to put our money where our mouth is, and give you resources to do some things in your schools that are good,” Hoskin said.

2020 Public School Appreciation Day
Disbursement by county


Adair – $493,499.15

Cherokee – $929,855.93

Craig – $160,459.37

Delaware – $394,414.55

Mayes – $499,848.27

Muskogee – $585,849.89

Nowata – $92,735.52

Osage – $3,463.15

Ottawa – $102,932.57

Rogers – $582,963.91

Sequoyah – $497,154.71

Tulsa – $1,311,380.23

Wagoner – $206,827.13

Washington – $191,242.96

Grand Total: $6,052,627.70

DISBURSEMENT HISTORY

Fiscal year* - Per Student Amount - Students - Awarded

2002 - $70.59 - 17,918 - $1.3 million

2019 - $192.40 - 31,459 - $6.05 million

*Money dispersed the following fiscal year

TOTAL TO DATE: $62.3 million

About the Author
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing ...
lindsey-bark@cherokee.org • 918-772-4223
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing ...

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