Cherokee Nation contributes $5.4M to 108 school districts

March 2, 2018

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks to representatives of 108 northeast Oklahoma school districts that received a total of $5.4 million at the tribe’s Public School Appreciation Day.

Sale of tribal car tags provides annual education boost

TULSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation contributed more than $5.4 million to 108 school districts during the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day Friday.

School superintendents from across northeastern Oklahoma gathered at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa for a luncheon and to receive checks from the tribe.

The funds are from the sale of tribal car tags. Cherokee Nation allocates 38 percent of car tag revenue each year to education, providing a boost for schools struggling under the weight of state budget cuts.

“The Cherokee Nation, by providing these annual funds, has once again proven to be an invaluable partner to public education in northeast Oklahoma,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Year after year, the dollars from the tribe’s car tag compact serve as a lifeline to local school districts that are struggling financially to meet the educational needs of our youth. I am proud the Cherokee Nation continues to invest in our children, our communities and our future. Access to quality public education is the only way northeast Oklahoma will continue to succeed going forward.”

School districts have total discretion on how to use the funding. In recent years, it’s gone toward teacher salaries, operations, technology and school programs.

Tulsa Public Schools received $77,781 this year. The school district uses its funds for classroom supplies, equipment, tutoring and field trips.

“Tulsa Public Schools’ partnership with Cherokee Nation has always had a significant impact within our district and, most importantly, with our students,” TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said. “Decades of chronic underinvestment in education and state funding cuts continue to be a significant challenge for our district and others across the state. These budget cuts have made our partnership with Cherokee Nation more important than ever. Tulsa Public Schools has been, and will continue to be, a proud and grateful partner with Cherokee Nation, and we are thankful for their contribution to our students and our students’ futures.”

Briggs Public School in Cherokee County received $44,648.

Superintendent Stephen Haynes said the donation will help support a school improvement grant that focuses on cooperative learning, intensive reading, math programming, tutoring and schoolwide solutions teams.

“The Cherokee Nation is an integral and vital partner in the support of Briggs Public School,” Haynes said. “Their assistance, whether in the form of funds or services, enables Briggs to provide a more well-rounded education and school experience that is beneficial for all students and the community at large. The funds are very much appreciated and not taken for granted. It is a choice that has been made by the Cherokee Nation and a choice that cannot be overlooked for the leadership, importance and example that it sets for others.”

School districts receive funding based on the number of Cherokee Nation citizens they have enrolled, though funding benefits all students.

Since 2002, the tribe has awarded school districts in northeastern Oklahoma $50.5 million in education contributions from car tag revenue.

“The Cherokee Nation Tax Commission is always grateful to make such a positive impact in more than 100 Oklahoma school districts,” Cherokee Nation Tax Commission Administrator Sharon Swepston said. “This $5.4 million will make a huge difference for these school districts, and I want to thank our Cherokee Nation citizens for choosing to purchase a tribal car tag to help make these contributions possible.”

These counties received funds totaling the following amounts during the 2018 Public School Appreciation Day event:

Adair $467,749
Cherokee $873,486
Craig $143,868
Delaware $390,145
Mayes $464,028
Muskogee $524,268
Nowata $89,829
Osage $3,189
Ottawa $96,207
Rogers $534,722
Sequoyah $472,178
Tulsa $1,028,693
Wagoner $180,012
Washington $173,457