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How The Budget Works

Tulsa Public Schools is committed to maintaining a transparent budgeting process. The budget is made up of several funds: general fund, building fund, child nutrition, bond, and debt service. Each fund has a purpose and a specification on where money can be spent.

General Fund

What is it and what is it used for?

The general fund is what provides us the most flexibility and pays for the majority of our district costs and most of our daily operations of schools, including salaries for our staff.

The bulk of this fund goes to classroom and school services - things like instruction, student support, school administration, student transportation, and more.

The general fund also helps pay for professional learning opportunities, general administration, and maintaining and operating school facilities.

Below is a chart of how our general fund was distributed for the 2017-2018 fiscal year:

A pie chart representing how the 2017-2018 general fund was distributed.

Building Fund

What is it and what is it used for?

The building fund pays for maintaining the infrastructure of our facilities. This includes repairing and maintaining all our buildings, purchasing furniture, equipment, and computer software, paying energy and utility costs, insurance, security, and campus police.

Because this money must be used for building expenses, we cannot use this fund to pay for teacher salaries, principal salaries, classroom supplies, or other outside the purpose of this fund.

The primary source for this fund comes from local property taxes.

Child Nutrition Fund

What is it and what is it used for?

Child Nutrition is strictly for paying for the services and resources needed to ensure our students receive meals at schools.

The majority is funded by the federal government through the National School Lunch Program. We aim to provide healthy meals for as many students as possible by participating in other programs, as well, such as the Community Eligibility Program.

You can learn more about our Child Nutrition program here.


What are they and what are they used for?

What are school bonds?

Bonds for school projects are very similar to a home mortgage. To finance construction projects and equipment purchases, the district sells bonds to investors who will be paid back, with interest over time, with funds raised through property taxes.

School bonds begin with a general election to authorize a specific amount for projects specified on the ballot. The school district sells them as municipal bonds, typically twice a year, when funds are needed for building projects or equipment and resources. Bids are taken from interested buyers and are sold at the lowest interest rate offered.

How can school bond money be used?

Proceeds from school bonds can be used for acquiring land, construction projects like classrooms, stadiums and libraries, and remodeling existing school facilities. Funds can also be used for buying buses, equipment, textbooks, computers and networking, musical instruments, science materials, and other teaching resources.

You can find more information on our bond projects here.

Because bond money can only be used for brick and mortar construction, durable goods, and/or technology, teacher and school site salaries or routine expenses cannot be paid from bond funds.

Debt Service

What is it and what is it used for?

If you look back at how bonds work, you'll see that a school district sells bonds to investors who will then be paid back, with interest. Legally, we are required to set aside money to pay for our debt, which is where the debt service fund comes in.

Because this money is specifically set aside to pay back debts, it cannot be used for any other purpose.

You can learn more about our bond projects here.


What happened to the lottery money?

While these funds are part of the revenue stream used for state aid, that revenue stream did not bring in as much as was expected.

Before the lottery program was put in place in 2007, it was projected to bring in between $300 million and $500 million annually. State appropriations for public schools are down more than $110 million since the beginning of last school year and are down a total of $1 billion since 2009.

Why can't Tulsa Public Schools use bond funding to balance the budget?

Oklahoma law limits school bonds to things like building additions and renovations, technology, furniture, buses, and library materials. School bonds cannot be used for items typically paid from a district's general fund, such as teacher salaries, supplies, and utilities.

Isn't our district top-heavy? Why can't we cut more from the district office?

Our district office services represent 10% of our overall budget, and positions at the director, executive director, and cabinet level account for 1.7% of the total budget. Currently, about 2 cents of every dollar goes to support general admin functions.

Why do we need the district office?

The district office team includes 1,000 critical positions that serve our students, teachers, and sites and buildings.

The central office team includes: Athletics, Before- and After-care, Child Nutrition Services, Facilities & Maintenance, Finance, Fine Arts, Indian Education, Instructional Leadership, IT and Operations, Language and Cultural Services, Payroll and Benefits, Professional Learning, Student and Family Support Services, Security, Special Education, Teaching and Learning, Talent Management, and Transportation. Without the central office, teachers won't get paid or receive benefits, schools won't be cleaned or maintained, and school teams would lose robust resources and supports that drive great instruction.

Why are you giving raises to district administrators?

Despite the ongoing budget crisis, we have vacant mission-critical positions that need to be filled. We have had internal candidates who submitted applications, completed interviews, and were the most qualified individuals to advance our efforts to inspire and prepare every student to love learning, achieve ambitious goals, and make positive contributions to our world. In a time of such significant financial challenges, we are fortunate to have opportunities to retain exceptional team members in the Tulsa Public Schools family.

Here are some examples of internal candidates who moved into new positions with increased salaries:

  • A teacher ($34,366) taking on an assistant principal position ($43,476);
  • An area lead bus driver ($13.50/hour) who becomes a transportation supervisor ($32,671);
  • A bus driver ($11.38/hour) who moves into a terminal manager role ($37,000);
  • A teacher ($33,700) who becomes a developer on our analytics team ($50,000);
  • A principal ($90,266) who becomes a director in our Student and Family Services department ($102,743); and
  • A curriculum coordinator ($56,699) who moves into a Director of College and Career Readiness role ($67,400)

When teachers move from 10-month to 12-month positions (such as a school leader or district administrator role), just the additional days (from 176 to 226) creates pay increases of about $10,000.

In 2018, the state also passed two bills providing raises for school employees: HB1026xx provides a raise to all school support employees, and HB1023xx provides a raise for all certified personnel (except superintendents) regardless fo whether they are in a school or in a district office.

How are administrative salaries determined?

The current education-grade and business-grade schedules were separated in 2005, so separate salary surveys could be conducted for separate groups which provided more accurate comparisons. The executive grade salary schedule and pay ranges were developed in 2013 by Battelle for Kids using the results of an executive compensation study. Battelle for Kids, a non-profit based in Columbus, Ohio, is a nationally recognized consulting firm that supports districts with implementing human resources best practices.

Why does Tulsa Public Schools have more employees than Oklahoma City?

In school year 2017-2018, Tulsa Public Schools had about 1,100 more employees than Oklahoma City and the gap in our total number of staff is explained as follows:

  • We had a larger number of teacher assistants and paraprofessionals as we serve a higher percentage of special education students (18.5% vs. 14.6%)
  • We had a larger transportation team with more bus drivers as we run additional bus routes.
  • The campus police and security function, maintenance and custodial services, and before- and after-care services were either completely or partially outsourced in Oklahoma City.

Why has Tulsa Public Schools increased non-teaching staff?

We have increased non-teaching staff by 35% mostly due to more child nutrition employees and more teacher assistants. We provide breakfast and lunch at every school, and we serve 130,000 lunches a week, so we need to staff appropriately. We have increased our number of teacher assistants and paraprofessionals concurrent with an increase in pre-K enrollment and our special education population. Our records may differ from state records in terms of which employees are included. For this analysis, we have included all regularly scheduled employees, including positions that are less than 6 hours per day, but not titled "sub" or "temp." Many child nutrition, before- and after-care, and teacher assistant positions are less than 6 hours per day.

Why does per pupil spending vary widely across Tulsa area districts?

Tulsa Public Schools serves more disadvantaged students than other districts. The state's aid formula counts disadvantaged/atypical students as more than a typical student since they are more costly to serve. For example, an autistic child counts as 3.4 (2.4 + 1) children; an economically disadvantaged student counts as 1.25 students, and the same for bilingual students. An economically disadvantaged student who is bilingual would count as 1.5 students. This way of counting students increases Tulsa Public Schools' student count more than other districts. Some money from our general fund also goes to serve charter school students (nearly 1,400) and preschool students at CAP Tulsa, Educare, and Crosstown (estimating 600 kids).

In addition, based on the poverty data in the U.S. census, the federal government provides additional funding via its grant programs - Title I, Title II, Title III, etc. - therefore, not only does the state account for additional funding based on student need, the federal government does as well.

Contact us

Nolberto Delgadillo
Chief Financial Officer

Kay Schmitz
Director of Budget

Dawn Hamilton
Executive Administrative Assistant