Dr. Ballard Plans to Leave District...But Not Before Calling Out Lawmakers
Tulsa, OK -
The leader of Tulsa Public Schools is leaving next year. Dr. Keith Ballard's announcement may be making headlines, but he says it's nothing new. He says he always meant to stay only three and five years.
Still, Dr. Ballard admits there will be some unfinished business when he leaves. "I guess I have accepted as I enter my 41st year in education that I am a change agent," said during a news conference Wednesday morning. He certainly shook things up, closing schools and consolidating others. There's also a new way to evaluate teachers, a model Dr. Ballard says more than 400 other schools plan to follow. "This was a system that needed a lot of work. we weren't making decisions for the right reasons. I felt it was a bloated organization," he said.
As he passes the torch onto the next leader what's the likelihood that his initiatives will carry on? New leaders often come with new agendas. He admits that's been the case in the past, but says it's really only mild concern. Ballard says he has confidence in the school board to pick the right person going forward.
He lacks confidence in the governor and the current legislature when it comes to school funding. Ballard has a big beef with them when it comes to the budget. "They couldn't find a way to support children. The governor and this legislature failed Oklahoma school children," he said.
TPS has lost 20 million from its budget. It's lost hundreds of teaching positions and some programs are in jeopardy. "Now we have $350 million more and this legislature could not find anyway to put a fraction back in of $220 something million that's been lost to the state," he explained. Ballard says the lack of funding isn't why he's leaving, but during his last year he will continue to tackle it and look for ways to recoup some of teaching positions lost.
In the meantime, the school board is meeting Thursday night to discuss getting Ballard's replacement. It's leader was unavailable for comment.
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