TPS prepares for redistricting, though some board members say the changes could mean less diversity

TULSA, Okla. — Some Tulsa Public Schools’ sites and families will have a new school board member representing them by the end of the year. The district is looking for input on redistricting and released different potential plans.

According to law, school districts are required to redistrict a year after the census. COVID-19 pushed those plans back to 2022.

The six plans presented show each of the seven board members having about 40,000 people in their district.

“Most options keeps about 96 percent of the districts the same, so there’s not a whole lot of difference,” School board member Dr. Jerry Griffin said.

He said the 2020 Census shows more than additional 1,600 students in TPS. Griffin adds, his district has the least amount of change in the plans, but the biggest change coming to districts two and three.

According to the law, there can’t be more than a 10 percent change to each of the board members’ districts.

Griffin said he hopes to have a new districting plan voted on sooner rather than later because school board president, Stacy Woolley is up for re-election in December. So for others wanting to run, he wants to make sure potential candidates know what their district boundaries are.

Other board members like Pastor Jennettie Marshall, who represents district three, said these six plans could disrupt the dynamic of the board and the change can mean less diverse representation in north Tulsa

She said none of the plans are doable or beneficial for north Tulsa. In the plans, she adds, it shows her losing Central High School, Central Middle School, Burroughs Elementary, Unity Learning Academy, and Celia Clinton Elementary, but possibly gaining one or both, Booker T. Washington High School and Carver Middle School; which are currently represented by district two.

“I believe we need to look at the voting power that’s going to be impacted. Which means the [elections] is going to be impacted. Which means the representation is going to be impacted,” Marshall said.

Marshall fears representation for African American students in north Tulsa will suffer with these plans because the area is already marginalized.

Representative Regina Goodwin, who represents much of north Tulsa said racial demographics need to be discussed when the Census comes out and it needs to be reflected in the redistricting plans.

“See, if they keep Booker T. and Carver in two that’s already the smallest district we have, so we are talking about representation and historically you’d at least to have been able to have two folks on the school board to represent the community,” Goodwin said.

School board members have until December 31st to vote on a new redistricting plan. In the meantime, school board members want to hear from families and residents on their thoughts. Board members are encouraging people to come out to the next school board meeting to share their ideas.