On Tuesday, March 3rd, the citizens of Tulsa will vote on a $415 million bond for Tulsa Public Schools. This bond -- which would not raise taxes -- is focused on four areas: facilities and classrooms, books and classroom technology, transportation, and libraries. As we learn on today's show, the bond is part of TPS's 20-year capital improvement plan to transform and expand aging facilities while also making schools safer throughout the district.
Tulsa’s soon-to-be School Superintendent is in town visiting schools and meeting parents. Dr. Deborah Gist met with the media while touring Disney Elementary. She comes here from Rhode Island, but attended Memorial High School and has family in Tulsa. She says first priority is to listen to what Tulsans have to say about public education. As a large urban district, Tulsa presents challenges, but Gist says she’s had a passion for urban districts throughout her career.
Gist will take over when Keith Ballard retires at the end of the school year.
Education leaders break ground on a new Collegiate Center for Edison Preparatory School in Tulsa.
The $4.4 million bond-funded facility will include lecture and testing halls, new classrooms, a computer research lab, and a study lounge. It’s designed for students preparing to transition to college. The building will also have two safe rooms built to FEMA standards to provide shelter during severe weather. Construction is scheduled for completion in summer 2015.
ImpactTulsa is a newly formed, entirely pro-education initiative that brings together locally based community leaders from the varied realms of education, business, civics, nonprofits, philanthropy, and the faith community -- all of which are united, as per the ImpactTulsa website, "to engage the community to provide a pathway where all students are guaranteed a high-quality education." Our guests today on ST are Kathy Taylor, the CEO of ImpactTulsa and a former mayor of this city, and Dr.
The new district report cards are out, and Tulsa Public Schools didn’t do well. TPS has a total of 49 schools with failing grades, up from 36 last year. But District Spokesman Chris Payne says it’s not an apples to apples comparison because special ed and English language students weren’t given modified versions of achievement tests as in the past. He says it makes comparisons meaningless.
Payne calls the school grading system ‘deeply flawed’. Five schools received A’s, four got B’s, and seven C’s.
The State of Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. And now, as we set forth on a new school year throughout this community and, indeed, across this state, we pause to ask: What about the children of those incarcerated? Who's assisting the kids, in this moment of great transition, whose parents are behind bars?
The Tulsa School Board is contracting out management of the district’s transportation department. There were some complaints from the support workers’ union, but Schools Spokesman Chris Payne says no one is losing their job and the deal will save time and money, more than $250,000 a year, plus a minimum of an additional $130,000 in the first year of the contract.
The vote was unanimous to contract with Missouri based TransPar for transportation management services. The district will continue to own the school bus fleet.
Tulsa Public Schools again calls on Teach For America for their assistance with summer programs June 11th. Over 5,000 students are enrolled into this year’s summer school. Tulsa City-County Health Department offers a voluntary class on prevention of teen pregnancy for secondary students. Elementary students have an opportunity to participate in a YMCA GO program which is centered on character development.
There are more budget challenges for the Tulsa Public Schools. As the school board begins work on a new budget, the school district chief financial officer Trish Williams says a $7.6-million federal grant is ending.
That grant was used to pay teacher salaries over a two year period. The first year, Williams says the district used $2.7 million. The remainder, $ 5.6-million, is being used this year.