Tulsa Public Schools, Oklahoma

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Tulsa Public Schools
Tulsa, Oklahoma
TPS logo.jpeg
District Profile
Superintendent:Keith Ballard
Graduation rate:82.7%
Number of schools:86
Budget: $536.6 million
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Ruth Ann Fate
Board members:7
Term length:4 years
Tulsa Public Schools is a school district in Oklahoma that serves the city of Tulsa. It is the second largest school district in Oklahoma, serving 41,501 students in 86 schools with an operating budget of $536.6 million.[1]

About the district

Tulsa Public Schools is located in Tulsa County, Okla.
Tulsa Public Schools is located in Tulsa County in northeastern Oklahoma. The county seat of Tulsa County is Tulsa. Tulsa County was home to approximately 622,409 residents in 2013 according to the United States Census Bureau.[2]


Tulsa County outperformed the rest of Oklahoma in terms of higher education achievement, median household income and percentage of residents living below the poverty level in 2013. The United States Census Bureau found that 29.7 percent of its residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 23.5 percent for Oklahoma as a whole. The median household income in the county was $48,181 compared to $45,339 for the state of Oklahoma. The poverty rate in Tulsa County was 15.9 percent compared to 16.9 percent for the entire state.[2]

Racial Demographics, 2013[2]
Race Tulsa County (%) Oklahoma (%)
White 74.0 75.4
Black or African American 10.8 7.7
American Indian and Alaska Native 6.7 9.0
Asian 2.6 2.0
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.2
Two or More Races 5.8 5.8
Hispanic or Latino 11.6 9.6

Tulsa County Party Affiliation[3]
Year Democratic Republican Independent
2014 120,346 168,774 44,010
2013 129,137 175,008 43,625
2012 123,640 163,372 38,698
2011 131,324 169,525 41,243
2010 131,772 165,289 39,416

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[4]


See also: Superintendent hiring

Dr. Keith Ballard has been the superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools since 2008 and is retiring from the position in June 2015. Dr. Deborah Gist, the Commissioner of Education for the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, was selected to replace him.

Ballad earned his doctorate in educational administration from Oklahoma State University, administrative certification from the University of Tulsa, M.Ed. as a reading specialist from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and B.A. with a double major in psychology and speech from Fort Hays State University.[5]

Ballard began his career in education as a teacher in Coweta, Okla., in 1972. In 1974, he took a position as a teacher in Oologah, Okla., and then became assistant high school principal in 1977, assistant superintendent in 1983 and superintendent in 1986. In 1992, he became superintendent of Claremore Public Schools and also served as an adjunct professor at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.[5]

In 2000, Ballard became the executive director of the Oklahoma State Schools Boards Association. He has received a number of honors, including the following:[5]

  • 2012 University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) Excellence in Education Leadership Award
  • 2012 State Superintendent of the Year, 2012 Tulsa People Tulsan of the Year
  • 2012 Vision in Education Leadership Award from the Tulsa Community College Foundation
  • Top 100 Administrators in North America
  • Northwestern Oklahoma State University Outstanding Alumni Award
  • Don Newby/Ben Hill award from the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry for Compassion and Concern for all Human Beings
  • Member, Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame

Ballard has spoken and written extensively on education and serves on numerous boards including the Oklahoma Superintendents Advisory Council and the Oklahoma Curriculum Improvement Commission. He is also active with the Oklahoma State Legislature and consults regularly with state leaders to help shape policy. He is married and has three children.[5]

School board

The Tulsa School Board is composed of seven members serving four-year terms.[6]

Tulsa Public Schools
Member District Assumed
Gary Percefull 1 2003 2019
Wilbert E. Collins Sr. 2 2012 2017
Dr. Lana Turner-Addison 3 2005 2017
Shawna Keller 4 2014 2018
Leigh Goodson 5 2012 2016
Ruth Ann Fate 6 1996 2016
Suzanne Schreiber 7 2014 2018

School board elections

See also: Tulsa Public Schools elections (2015)

Members of the Tulsa School Board are elected to four-year terms. Each election is held on the second Tuesday in February. Two seats were up for election in February 2014, one seat was up for election in February 2015, two seats are up for election in 2016 and two seats are up for election in February 2017.

Public participation in board meetings

The Tulsa School Board maintains the following policy on public testimony during board meetings:

Citizens are encouraged to attend meetings of the Board of Education and are allowed to address the Board and to comment concerning the Board’s deliberations or on other relevant issues of interest/concern at regular meetings. Public comment will not be permitted at special meetings of the Board of Education unless the meeting is declared to be a public hearing for that purpose.

The Board President may interrupt and terminate any presentation not deemed to be in accordance with the guidelines set out by this policy. The Board President may also, after a warning, preclude an individual speaker from addressing the Board on any other agenda item at that meeting and/or at the next regular meeting of the Board of Education for violation of the guidelines set out by this policy

Public Comment Guidelines
School board policies, state law, and federal law establish separate and distinct procedures and forums for the resolution of employee grievances, employee complaints, employee suspensions and terminations, complaints against individual employees, pupil suspensions and appeals, political campaigns, and litigation.

To avoid circumvention of these separate proceedings and to assure fairness to all parties concerned, no person will be allowed to speak regarding the following: • An issue in a pending lawsuit, complaint, or investigation filed with an outside agency, wherein the District, employee(s) or the Board is a party; • A pending grievance; • A pending employee complaint filed with the District or an outside agency; • A complaint against individual employee(s); • An employee disciplinary action including suspension or termination; • A pending pupil disciplinary action including suspension or appeal that may reach the Board.

The individual dignity of Board members, District employees, students, and members of the public must be respected by all speakers. Board members, employees, students, nor members of the public will be subjected to verbal abuse.

Public comment may take one of two forms: comment concerning items that are on the current agenda or comment concerning issues not on the current agenda. A maximum time limit will be allotted to each individual speaker per meeting – a total of five minutes for speaking to items on the business meeting agenda and five minutes to speak under the Citizens’ Comments portion of the agenda

Comments Concerning Items on an Agenda
Individuals may comment on business items or recommendations appearing under the Action or Information portions of a regular meeting agenda. Requests to comment must be made by submitting a completed form for each topic. Forms are available from the Board Clerk before the beginning of each meeting. Requests will be accepted at any time up to the consideration of the Consent Agenda portion of the meeting. Each individual requesting to speak must personally complete the form listing their name and contact information, and sign verifying they have read the instructions regarding comments. The individual will also indicate on the form if they are speaking on their own behalf or on behalf of a group and whether or not they support or oppose the item (as applicable). Speakers are encouraged to provide the Board with a written outline of their comments to be made available to them before or at the meeting.

A total time limit of five minutes will apply to each speaker during a meeting regardless of the number of agenda items to which they wish to speak. Each speaker will be called when the item about which they wish to comment is to be considered by the Board and will be called in the order in which they signed to speak.

The Board and staff will not dialogue with speakers. Staff will strive to provide answers or resolve any issues/concerns in a timely manner.

Comments Concerning Items Not on an Agenda
The agenda for each regularly scheduled meeting of the Board will include an item designated “Citizens’ Comments.” The “Citizens’ Comments” portion of the agenda will be reserved for comments concerning issues not otherwise appearing on an agenda. This portion of the agenda is reserved to provide citizens an opportunity to address the Board of Education on issues affecting the District and is not intended to provide a forum for commercial, political or similar topics.

An individual wishing to comment during this portion of a meeting must personally sign and submit a completed request form with all supporting documents to the Clerk of the Board seven calendar days before the meeting at which the individual wishes to speak. The forms are available online or from the Clerk of the Board of Education. Each individual requesting to speak must complete the form and sign verifying they have read instructions regarding citizens’ comments.

Generic topics will not be accepted. The topic listed on the request form must be brief but specific enough to satisfy posting requirements under state law. The topic should be worded so an ordinary individual may understand what the topic is about. The topic language submitted by the citizen will be reviewed and approved or disapproved by the attorney for the School District. Individuals will also indicate on the form if they are speaking on their own behalf or on behalf of a group. Speakers will be notified regarding approval or disapproval of their request. The Superintendent or designee will address speakers' specific issues or concerns within 60 days.

A total time limit of five minutes during the Citizens’ Comments portion of the agenda will apply to each speaker during a meeting regardless of the number of topics on which the individual requests to speak.

Speakers are encouraged to provide the Board with a written outline of their comments to be made available to them before or at the meeting.[7]

—Tulsa Public Schools[6]


The table below displays the budget for Tulsa Public Schools:[8]

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2013-2014 $285,023,288 53.1% $62,045,756 11.6% $76,887,145 14.3% $99,692,270 18.6% $12,989,131 2.4% $536,637,589
2014-2015 $310,147,288 55.8% $42,694,513 7.7% $94,173,587 16.9% $109,188,868 19.6% $0 0% $556,204,256
Averages: $297,585,288 54% $52,370,134.5 10% $85,530,366 16% $104,440,569 19% $6,494,565.5 1% $546,420,922.5

Teacher salaries

Teacher salaries are categorized based on higher education achievement, professional development and years of service. A teacher with a Bachelor's degree can earn higher salaries by pursuing graduate courses. The salary schedule also accounts for graduate degrees by providing higher starting salaries and greater potential salaries. The following table details the current salary schedule:[9]

Tulsa Teacher Salaries
Salary structure Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
BA 32,900 47,630
MA 33,956 50,936
MA + 30 34,964 54,544
MA + 60 36,005 56,175
D 37,105 57,271

Academic performance

The Oklahoma Department of Education issues an annual A-F School Report Card for each school district in the state. This annual report takes into account student achievement, overall student growth and bottom quartile student growth. The student achievement category accounts for 50% of the grading formula and tracks student performance on standardized tests in five categories. These testing categories are English, math, science, U.S. history and writing. The overall student growth category accounts for 25% of the grading formula and compares test results from the previous year to the current year. The bottom quartile student growth accounts for 25% of the grading formula and analyzes progress by students in the bottom 25% of test performers from the previous year.

Tulsa Public Schools received an overall grade of 59 for an F on the 2012-2013 report card.[10] The state of Oklahoma received an overall grade of 71 for a C- on the 2012-2013 report card.[11] The following tables compare the 2012-2013 A-F School Report Card from Oklahoma City Public Schools to the state's report card:[12]

Student Achievement

Student Achievement results, 2012-2013
Subject District Performance Index State Performance Index District Letter Grade State Letter Grade
Reading/English/English III 57 73 F C
Math/Algebra I/Algebra II/Geometry 55 72 F C
Science/Biology I 37 54 F F
U.S. History 58 77 F C
Writing 43 56 F F
Overall Grade 53 69 F D

Overall Student Growth results, 2012-2013
Subject District Performance Index State Performance Index District Letter Grade State Letter Grade
Reading/English II 69 79 D C
Math/Algebra I 66 78 D C
Overall Grade 67 79 D C

Bottom Quartile Student Growth results, 2012-2013
Subject District Performance Index State Performance Index District Letter Grade State Letter Grade
Reading/English II 56 59 F F
Math/Algebra I 53 59 F F
Overall Grade 55 59 F F


Superintendent hiring

Dr. Deborah Gist

Over two dozen applicants sought to replace Ballard, who is retiring as the district's superintendent in June 2015. The board planned to choose Ballard's replacement by mid-January 2015. Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association expressed a desire that the new superintendent be a former teacher and that he or she be familiar with Tulsa and the school district.[13]

Two final candidates were selected to be interviewed on January 23, 2015: Dr. Deborah Gist and Millard House.[14] However, after the interviews, House withdrew his name from consideration.[15]

Gist was unanimously approved by the board to become the district's first female superintendent on February 2, 2015.[16] She will be leaving her position as Commissioner of Education for the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which she was appointed to on July 1, 2009. An alumni of the district, Gist holds a B.S. in early childhood education from the University of Oklahoma, an M.A. in elementary education from University of South Florida and an M.P.A. from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.[17] In 2010, Gist was named by TIME as one of the 100 people who most affect the world.[18]

Gist's appointment did not receive a warm reception from some community members and teachers. Before the meeting at which Gist was appointed, some rallied to ask the board to reconsider its decision due to what they called a lack of transparency in the search process.[16] A group of teachers left the meeting in protest according to a spokesperson for the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association. Board president Ruth Ann Fate expressed her disappointment at the move and stated that she hoped "they give her a chance."[19]

Superintendent Ballard expressed his confidence in the board saying, "I do believe that these board members care deeply and I do believe in the superintendent search process, that they have been very diligent and have worked very hard at this. And I know they car deeply about that person who is going to be selected as superintendent, so I have a lot of confidence in this board."[16]


Tulsa Public Schools is addressing overcrowding in many of its schools. Since the school district began an ongoing efficiency initiative known as Project Schoolhouse, it shut down 14 school buildings with low enrollment. This left many schools operating at higher occupancy rates. District leaders say they need to pay close attention to ensure that schools don't cross the line between full and overcapacity. Each winter since Project Schoolhouse began, district administrators have conducted an annual site capacity review and the Tulsa school board has subsequently approved adjustments to school boundaries to help balance out student enrollments among sites. In 2013, Tulsa Public Schools reopened a closed elementary school building as a 7th grade center to help alleviate unexpected crowding at McLain Junior High School. Superintendent Keith Ballard believes that Project Schoolhouse is working and that the district could be eligible to pursue a new bond issue to address capital needs, including classroom additions, in late 2014 or early 2015.[20]

Contact information

TPS logo.jpeg
Tulsa Public Schools
3027 S. New Haven Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74114-6131
Phone: (918)-746-6517

See also

External links


  1. Tulsa Public Schools, "Home," accessed January 19, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 United States Census Bureau, "Tulsa County, Oklahoma," accessed December 12, 2014
  3. Oklahoma State Election Board, "Voter Registration Reports," accessed December 12, 2014
  4. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Tulsa Public Schools, "Supt. Biography," accessed January 19, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 https://www.tulsaschools.org/1_Administration/_board_policies/PolicyManual.pdf Tulsa Public Schools, "Policy Manual," accessed January 19, 2014]
  7. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  8. Tulsa Public Schools, "Financial Reports," accessed December 3, 2013
  9. Tulsa Public Schools, "Salary Schedules," accessed January 19, 2014
  10. Oklahoma Department of Education, "A-F Report Card: Tulsa Public Schools," accessed February 4, 2014 (dead link)
  11. Oklahoma Department of Education, "A-F Report Card: Statewide," accessed February 3, 2014 (dead link)
  12. Oklahoma Department of Education, "A-F School Report Cards," accessed February 3, 2014
  13. NewsOn6.com, "Tulsa Public School Board, Teachers Give Wish List For New Superintendent," November 18, 2014
  14. NewsOn6.com, "Tulsa Public Schools Interviews Final Candidates," January 23, 2015
  15. NewsOn6.com, "Candidate For Tulsa School Superintendent Withdraws," January 30, 2015
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 NewsOn6.com, "Tulsa School Board Hires Gist As Superintendent," February 3, 2015
  17. Rhode Island Department of Education, "Biography," accessed November 3, 2012
  18. TIME, "The 2010 TIME 100 - Deborah Gist," April 29, 2010
  19. Providence Journal, "Raimondo to involve public in choosing Gist’s successor as R.I. education commissioner," February 3, 2015
  20. Tulsa World, "Tulsa Public Schools considering options to alleviate crowding," accessed January 16, 2014