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Proposed Reductions for the 2020-2021 Budget Redesign

This week we are holding four community meetings where Superintendent Deborah Gist will share information about a set of recommendations she intends to present to our Board of Education in January 2020. The first of these meetings was held Monday, December 9th at McLain High School. There will be three additional meetings, which include:

  • Tuesday, December 10, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Memorial High School cafeteria
  • Wednesday, December 11 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the East Central School cafeteria
  • Thursday, December 12 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Webster High School Allen cafeteria

If you are unable to attend, we will be live-streaming each meeting on our Facebook page.

These community meetings are a continuation of the community engagement we initiated in September to gather feedback from our teachers, parents, students, staff, and community members to help inform our work to redesign our budget for the 2020-2021 school year. 

  • The first phase of our community engagement effort included 24 meetings where we engaged with nearly 1,500 Tulsans. We also launched a web-based survey and heard from 5,700 Tulsans about the programs, services, and supports that matter most to them.
  • In our second phase of community engagement, we invited about 300 community members - including teachers, students, school leaders, parents, and community members - to a series of budget redesign work-sessions. Those community members participated in two work-sessions in late October.
  • We also created the Budget Advisory Group - a group of 38 community members including civic leaders; community partners; business, community, and faith leaders; parents, and teacher leaders - to work with us throughout the budget redesign process to provide feedback as we developed potential options for reductions. 

Alongside of our community engagement efforts, we continued our extensive internal analysis of all district initiatives and expenses to identify any other possible savings opportunities. 

Based on our community feedback, continued internal analysis, and our experience with and research on the programs, practices, and supports that we know work for our children, we have identified approximately $18-$20 million in potential budget reductions.

Reduction/changes in district office services (approx. $13-14 million)

These reductions include both operational efficiencies as well as the creation and deletion of certain positions. It is important to know that most of these reductions are not personnel-related; for example, we have identified nearly $1.5 million in savings through changes in the way we manage worker’s compensation claims. Nonetheless, these changes - if approved by our Board of Education - could directly affect members of our team. We will engage in conversations with those team members in January. By March, we expect to be able to provide more information about changes to services to teachers, school leaders, staff, and families. 

School closures and consolidations (approx. $2-$3 million)

Superintendent Gist plans to recommend the closures of Grimes, Jones, and Wright elementary schools as well as the consolidation of Mark Twain Elementary School into Wayman Tisdale Fine Arts Academy. These are extraordinarily difficult decisions to make, and we put a great deal of thought and care into our analysis of all district schools. We considered a number of factors as we developed these recommendations, including historical, current, and projected enrollment; current programmatic offerings; building utilization rates; building condition and design; needs of the surrounding community; and access to other district schools. 

Change to elementary staffing plan (approx. $3 million)

Superintendent Gist plans to recommend changes to the elementary staffing plan. These changes would shift the staffing plan from allocating teachers based on grade-level ranges to allocating general education teachers based on school-wide enrollment. I am recommending that the staffing ratio be 24:1. This will result in class size changes, with an average class size of 24 at elementary -- an average increase of one student. There will be no changes to the middle school or high school staffing plans. It is important to note that these numbers reflect what the staffing plan provides, but not what school leaders may choose to do in their buildings.

Next Steps

Over the next several weeks, we will hold meetings with staff and families potentially affected by school closures and consolidations. We will also meet with families potentially affected by grade configuration changes. 

In January, Superintendent Gist will present the recommendations to the Board of Education. If the Board approves the recommendations, we will hold additional meetings with affected families and staff and begin planning for implementation. 

Click here to learn more about the budget redesign.