Shaping Our Future
The 2019-2020 school year marks our 4th year of Destination Excellence - it's hard to believe that we are this far along in our journey! We have made some important gains during that time with double-digit increases in our graduation rate, continued academic growth based on NWEA MAP assessments, and significant improvement in employee engagement.
We have also had many opportunities to listen to and learn from our team, parents, and families about what is working well and where we need to improve. Based on that feedback, it is clear that we must redesign our system to make teaching and learning in Tulsa more equitable and more accessible.
With a focus on shaping our future to ensure that our students have robust, holistic, and engaging learning experiences, we are undertaking three important areas of work this year:
- Implementing an improved enrollment system
- Creating consistency in grade configurations
- Identifying strategic investments and resource reallocations
Our families have been loud and clear that our current enrollment system is confusing:
- We have different enrollment and application windows and timelines across the district;
- We have different types of applications and application processes across the district; and
- Our application windows are not aligned to allow families to have the largest range of choices possible.
We want to make it simple and easy for families to choose - and stay with - Tulsa Public Schools and we think an improved enrollment system is a step forward.
By improving our enrollment process:
- Families have one application and one application period;
- Families can choose multiple schools and rank them in order of preference; and
- Families have access to relevant and timely information to help them make decisions about their child's education.
In the winter of 2019-2020, we will launch our improved enrollment system for families who are enrolling children for the 2020-2021 school year.
The focus for the first year of this enrollment system is on ensuring that our system is designed to help all students have access to exceptional learning experiences, but the rules, criteria or priorities that govern who is accepted in our schools are not changing.
We know that transitions can be hard for students, and we want to minimize the number of times they move between schools.
- With 14 different grade configurations district-wide, our system is difficult to navigate.
- Creating consistency in the grade configurations of our schools will make it easier for students and families to move between elementary, middle, and high school as children grow.
In 2019-2020, we are exploring how best to configure grade structures and will work with school teams to develop a path forward.
From 2008 to 2018, the State of Oklahoma cut more per pupil to education than any state in the country. In prior years, we have managed our budget through:
- Implementing our own cost-saving measures;
- Saving money through vacant positions;
- Slight under-spending of team budgets across the district;
- Using our fund balance to submit balanced budgets
In 2018-2019, however, for the first time in a decade, we used $4 million from our fund balance (think of this like a savings account) to sustain operations. We must now plan for:
- Not having excess funds carry over to add to the fund balance.
- Not enough state funding for operational expenses (recent funding increases have been primarily for salaries).
- Invest in strategies to increase enrollment
- Assess opportunities to redesign structural cost issues
Over the next few months, our community will play a huge part in our shaping of the future. We will hold several community meetings to gather feedback and develop our budget plan during the fall and winder of 2019 and implement the new budget in 2020-2021.
The work ahead will be challenging, but we have an exciting chance to design the best possible school system that we can for the children and families we serve. We have an opportunity to develop a strategy that will help us to thrive within the means we have ben given with the state's investment in education.
We look forward to working alongside our team and community to shape the future of Tulsa Public Schools as a place where families and educators choose to stay because the experience is unmatched in excellence.
Learn more about our Shaping Our Futures budget redesign effort here:
In the 2019-2020 school year, we are excited to work with our community to Shape Our Future to both improve the experiences Tulsans have in our district and redesign our system to make teaching and learning more equitable and accessible.
*Food will be provided during the first 30 minutes of the event, followed by the discussion.
Office Hours with Superintendent Deborah A. Gist
Thursday, October 10
Wilson Teaching & Learning
2710 E. 11th St.
Thursday, October 10
East Central High School
12150 E. 11th St.