TULSA, Okla. -- For the first time in more than five years, Tulsa Public Schools is pulling from its reserve fund.
Over the last two years they relied on cutting staff. This summer the district will use roughly $6 million dollars instead, to fill an expected $7 million deficit.
"Initially my thoughts were those of relief because as administrators every year we hold our breath to see what's going to happen with staffing. While we understand the district is in a financial pinch, the state funding is not adequate," Mcclure Elementary School principal Katy Jimenez said.
The district is looking to prevent growing class sizes. Jimenez said at Mcclure Elementary, classes are expanding by about five students every year.
"It's tempting for a teacher to leave mid year or soon after the year starts if the task seems impossible because of the number of students that are in their classroom," she said.
But staff with the district said enrollment is declining every year. As that number goes down, funding from the state plummets with it.
"When we start thinking about the amount of funding that we are receiving but then simultaneously take into account that we are losing students, how do we then turn the ship around and get to the place we need to be?" TPS CFO Nolberto Delgadillo said.
Delgadillo said the $6,000 teacher pay raise does not make up for close to $100 million cut in education by the state over the last ten years.
"It's not going to be enough. Although we are funding teacher salaries, we are funding support staff salaries, there's additional textbook money. All of that is great, it's a great first step but that's what it is, it's a first step into additional funding that we need," he said.
The administration said this is not a long term solution, as relying on the district's saving account is not sustainable.
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