Tulsa Public Schools

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As COVID-19 numbers have continued climbing to historic highs, Tulsa Public Schools welcomed back kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students as the first grade levels to return to in-person classes following an all-remote start to the school year.

"I get really alarmed when I see those numbers increasing," said TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist on a Zoom call with media early Monday. "I also get frustrated because I know we have the ability to keep these numbers down."

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Calling it as much about protecting your community as yourself, especially as flu season arrives during a global pandemic, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum received flu shots at a Tuesday press conference and urged Tulsans to do the same.

Tulsa County Sheriff

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Child Predator Unit arrested a 26-year-old man they believed was a local teacher in a sting operation.

The sheriff’s office said Aaron Hernandez sent lewd pictures of himself to and discussed sex with an undercover deputy posing as a 14-year-old girl on the apps Whisper and Snapchat. Hernandez was arrested Monday morning when he reportedly went to meet the teen to have sex with her.

Tulsa Youth Rowing Association

Tulsa Public Schools and Tulsa Youth Rowing Association missed out on a grant last year to help bring the sport to more kids.

This year, they got it.

Through its ErgEd grant, USRowing and the George Pocock Foundation will pay for 20 rowing machines — or ergometers — worth around $1,000 apiece and bring in experts to train physical education teachers on using them.

Tulsa Public Schools

Mark Twain and Wright elementary schools will be occupied by charter schools next year.

The Tulsa Public Schools Board approved the district to enter into leases with Collegiate Hall for Wright and KIPP Tulsa for Mark Twain.

There was some pushback on the proposal. Board member Jennettie Marshall said a four-person review of the charter schools’ applications is not an official district policy, and she would rather see that set before voting on the applications.

The board approved them with a promise to adopt the process used as policy for future lease applications.

Tulsa Public Schools is seeking community input as it plans for the upcoming school year.

An online survey asks parents, students and members of the community how they feel about steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 — things like staggered schedules to allow for social distancing, a longer school year so there’s more time to disinfect classrooms, and shifting between traditional and distance learning if infection rates warrant.

Tulsa Public Schools has announced its plans for online summer school.

Tulsa Public Schools will spend up to $500,000 on mobile hotspots and data services from Sprint for students who need summer school but don’t have internet at home.

TPS will have 1,500 hot spots available.

"We’re prioritizing the upper-grade students, high school students, including [this year’s] seniors who may need to move on into the summer to continue wrapping up their credits," said Superintendent Deborah Gist.

Some devices will be available for younger students, too, but the COVID-19 pandemic is making TPS prioritize.

KWGS News File Photo

At a special meeting of the Tulsa Public School Board of Education on Friday, administrators and board members were unanimous in approving six recommendations aimed at helping the district and its students deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We’re spending lots of time with our school leaders to ensure that our students feel engaged, loved, connected with, and prepared to move into next year," said Deputy Superintendent Paula Shannon.

Impact Tulsa

For the past six years, Impact Tulsa, a community partnership between Tulsa County school districts, business leaders, government, community organizations and philanthropic groups have been targeting several key indices for educational improvement. Through the collection of data, the group has designed and implemented strategies to improve kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading proficiency, eighth-grade mathematics proficiency, high school completion, postsecondary enrollment, and postsecondary completion.

Later this week, on the morning of October 24th, the Opportunity Project -- a Tulsa nonprofit that (per its website) acts as a "citywide intermediary for expanded learning [and for] connecting youth to the world of opportunity" -- will celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Lights On Afterschool Day. This celebration begins at 8:30am at the Central Center in Centennial Park, near 6th and Peoria, and it will include a presentation regarding "What Tulsa's Youth Need to Thrive" by Karen J. Pittman, co-founder and CEO of The Forum for Youth Investment.


The only remaining candidate, after the other finalist dropped out, gets the job of Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent. The School Board last night voted unanimously to offer the post to Dr. Deborah Gist of Rhode Island. The offer comes despite a group led by teachers who wanted someone else. Jennifer Thornton is a member of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, and she believes there are better candidates available.

But Board Vice-Chair Gary Perciful has no misgivings. He says Gist is the right fit for Tulsa.

Tulsa Public Schools

A new report shows since the start of the recession, Oklahoma has made the deepest cuts in school funding in the nation. The report by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds Oklahoma’s public school funding down by almost 23% or $810 per student since 2009. Gene Perry with the Oklahoma Policy Institute says it’s not a category where you want to be number one.

Perry says we’re demanding more from our children with harder tests and curriculum and at the same time we’re taking away resources that help them learn.

Tulsa Public Schools

Voters within the Tulsa Public Schools district will go to the polls on May 14th to vote on a $38 million bond issue devoted to classroom technology as well as safety and security. Looking at facilities across the span of the district, we find that some schools have a student-to-computer ratio of 3:1, while in other schools that ratio is as high as 13:1. This bond will address those disparities, and will also provide funds for sprinkler systems within TPS's oldest schools as well as additional security at various entrances and exits. Our guest today is Dr.


Ground is broken today on a new sports complex for Memorial High School.

It’s the first new construction in a long time at Memorial. The complex, called Veterans Arena, will include a 12-hundred seat gym for basketball, volleyball, and wrestling. Public Schools Athletic Director Gil Cloud says there’s also room to accommodate all the boys and girls sports now offered. And he says it will be a community facility, that people in the Memorial area can use it for a variety of events…not just sporting events.  

KWGS News File photo

Oklahoma School Superintendents go to Oklahoma City to voice their displeasure with the new A-through-F School grading system. Among them, is Tulsa’s Superintendent Doctor Keith Ballard. He says the system is unfair and confusing.

For example, he says most people consider an “A” to be anything between 90-and-100-percent. But under this system, Ballard says a school would have to achieve a minimum grade point average of three-point-75 to get an “A”.

School Superintendents from 81 school districts in the state took part in today's gathering.

Back to School

Aug 20, 2012
KWGS News File photo

School bells are ringing in the Tulsa Public Schools. This is the first day of classes in the state's largest school district.

Tulsa School Board President Gary Percefull says, despite the financial challenges, he is expecting a good school year ahead. He says the community is supporting the school district and its educators. The district has lost millions of dollars in state cut backs.

Tulsa Police are also watching the school zones for speeders and those that do not yield to school buses.


Tulsa public schools get a 195-thousand dollar grant from PSO to boost a program helping students who live in poverty conditions. The money supports the Community Schools Initiative. Lucky Lamons is President of the Foundation for Tulsa Schools. He says the program incorporates several elements of the community into the education of children, and can help those in difficult circumstances learn as well as improve their test scores.

Some of the funds will help expand literacy programs. The donation was made at the Schools Uniting Communities conference today at OSU-Tulsa.

Another TPS Administrator to Leave

Jul 9, 2012
Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools’ Deputy Superintendent Millard L. House II has accepted an offer to become the Chief Operating Officer of Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) district is one of the nation’s largest school districts, located in the Charlotte, North Carolina, region and serves more than 141,100 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 159 schools throughout the cities and towns of Mecklenburg County. Most recently, CMS was named one of the top school districts in the country as winner of the 2011 Broad Prize for Urban Education. In addition, Dr.

Former Commissioner to Serve on School Board

Jul 3, 2012
Wilbert Collins

The TPS school board tonight voted to appoint Wilbert E. Collins, Sr., to the District 2 seat recently resigned by board member Oma Jean Copeland.  Collins, 71, a former Tulsa County Commissioner, was among three candidates who applied for the position. 

The board unanimously voted in favor of Collins, who will fulfill the remainder of Ms. Copeland’s term, which expires in February 2013.  The other candidates were Daryl McGee, currently employed as a neighborhood inspector with the City of Tulsa, and David Leon DeVille, both of whom are former educators with TPS. 

File Photo

 Tulsa Public Schools considers early-release days once per month. The early release allows educators to collaborate teaching techniques. Students would be released in the middle of the day. Tulsa schools administrators determined that early-releases are more cost effective than adopting the late-start method.


A survey has been released for parents’ opinions. To take part in the survey, click this link

New TPS Ticket Prices for Sporting Events

Jun 18, 2012
File photo

The Tulsa Public Schools Department of Athletics today announced new ticket prices for the coming athletics year.

In an effort to increase student attendance, student ticket prices for all levels of athletics will be reduced to $3. Included in the price reduction will be the senior citizen discount ticket which will also be $3 for anyone 65 years and older. Students and seniors citizens will be required to show a valid I.D. in order to purchase reduced price tickets.

Donation to Save School District Jobs

Jun 5, 2012
Tulsa Public Schools

An anonymous donation of $600,000 will save 15 teacher jobs that were recently eliminated in the Tulsa Public Schools.  Superintendent Keith Ballard also says additional jobs will be saved after budget reviews. He expects that number to be around 15-t0-18 jobs.                                 

That means about 45 jobs are still at risk. The district says it's searching for that funding. The cuts were brought about by the legislature’s failure to allocate more money for common education.

KWGS News File Photo

Tulsa’s School Superintendent confirms he will leave when his current contract expires at the end of June in 2013. Dr. Keith Ballard says it was never his intention to stay longer than five years…and that time will be up next year.

Dr. Ballard says he’s not leaving because he’s disgruntled about anything in his job with the Tulsa district. And while he says current budget woes had nothing to do with his decision to leave,  he did blast state lawmakers and the governor over the ‘flat budget’ for education, saying that they had failed Oklahoma’s school children.

McLain meeting over state partnership tonight

Apr 11, 2012
Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools' McLain Advisory Committee will host a meeting for students, parents and community members. The meeting will take place from 6-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 11, at McLain High School, 4929 N. Peoria Ave.

The purpose of this meeting is to share information with parents and community members about the State Department of Education partnership with Tulsa Public Schools.

On today's program, we speak with Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard, who --- like every other school system administrator across Oklahoma --- is working hard to deal with the new reality of reduced state expenditures for education. Indeed, such aid is now lower than it was four years ago. Less and less money for schools, teachers, classrooms, and textbooks means more and more to be alarmed about, according to Dr.

KWGS News Photo/TPS 20 / Superintendent Ballard at last night's meeting

In this election year, Tulsa School officials will be actively speaking out against state education budget cuts. Tulsa School Superintendent Doctor Keith Ballard says people need to realize the cuts are impacting students in the classroom.

The Tulsa Schools will lose over 100-teaching positions. Ballard says there will be no lay-offs, because they won’t hire replacements for retiring teachers.

Hear the  Superintendent's comments to the school board last night, by clicking the "Listen" link above.

The FBI has now entered the probe into allegations of financial wrongdoing involving Tulsa Public Schools Athletic Department. Chris Payne is Public Information Officer for the school system. He says an internal investigation uncovered activities that have the potential of being violations of federal law. He says the FBI and U-S Attorney approached school officials about helping in the investigation, and that help was accepted.


Stephanie Spring resigned in January as Athletic Director, after she and two assistants were suspended.

148 teaching positions will be cut in Tulsa

Mar 16, 2012

Due to funding cuts, 148-teaching position will be eliminated at the Tulsa Public Schools. Tulsa School Superintendent Doctor Keith Ballard blasted the legislature at last night’s board meeting saying "this is what smaller government looks like."

Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association President Lynn Stockley says the legislature can’t just keeping cutting and the administration can’t keep adding to the teachers’ plate. She says educators are demoralized by the cuts and increased requirements being placed upon them.   

KWGS News File Photo

Playing on a railroad track, near a school bus stop that was not his own, proves fatal in Tulsa . A 12-year-old boy, Richard Brown, was struck and killed by a freight train about eight o’clock this morning. He was pulled by the train down the tracks before the train could stop.

It happened near the 2200 block of North Lewis. Brown was rushed to the hospital where he died about two hours later.

Tulsa Public School officials confirm the boy was a student at the McLain Junior High School. Special grief counselors will be brought to the school.