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.
TULSA – Officials with the Cherokee Nation contributed more than $5.4 million to 108 school districts on Friday, March 2, during the tribe’s annual Public Schools Appreciation Day.
School superintendents from across northeastern Oklahoma gathered at the 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 $100,814.14 this year. The school district uses the funds for a variety things.
“I am so pleased that Cherokee Nation shows the utmost respect for public education," explained Grove Public Schools Superintendent Sandy Coaly. "Cherokee Nation seems to understand the concept of supporting Oklahoma schools. For that, I am grateful.
"If our budget stays as is, we are going to take our money and purchase a new school car, and the rest of the money will help us pay our electric or gas bill.”
Ottawa County Schools received a total of $96,207.51 from the funding.
"The Cherokee Nation has always supported our school. We believe the Cherokee Nation has provided our students and teachers opportunities they would not get if the funds were not available," explained Afton Public Schools Middle School Principal Ike Mustain. "We use the funds in our general fund to help fill in the gaps; basically, it fills needs we have in providing the things we believe make our school and community successful.
"We believe that with the state budget like it is, this gives us the flexibility to continue to provide students and teachers all the important opportunities and resources they need to create success and a positive atmosphere to work in and grow.”
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.”
Total contributions within Cherokee Nation
Afton Public Schools;$30,651.75
Fairland Public Schools;$27,462.55
Miami Public Schools;$38,093.21