Attending the presentation of Cherokee Nation donations to Sequoyah County schools on Friday are, from left to right in front, Central Public Schools Treasurer Mechelle Dodd and Business Manager Kathy Woody, Roland Public Schools Superintendent Randy Wood, Belfonte Public School Superintendent Paul Pinkerton, Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Vian Public Schools Superintendent Victor Salcedo and Muldrow Public Schools Superintendent Ron Flanagan. In back are, from the left, Brushy Public School Principal Carla Fivekiller, Vian Public Schools Treasurer Ed Brockman, Moffett Public School Superintendent Jimmie Owens, Liberty Public School Assistant Principal Chris Michael, Gans Public Schools Superintendent Larry Calloway, Gore Public Schools Native American Programs Director Rhonda Eagle, Tribal Councilor Wanda Hatfield, Sallisaw Public Schools Superintendent Scott Farmer and Marble City Public School Superintendent Dale London.
The Cherokee Nation awarded a record $4.7 million in donations to 106 school districts during the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day Friday, where many school superintendents said they are struggling from state budget cuts.
Sequoyah County received $409,000 from the Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation sells tribal car tags and uses 38 percent of revenue for education.
The first full year that Cherokee Nation car tags were sold statewide was in 2015. Car tag revenues for education in that time increased from $4 million to $4.7 million.
“As the state allocates less and less each year to public education, the Cherokee Nation is making a record-breaking contribution to area schools. That’s something that every one of our tribal citizens can take great pride in. We are investing in our children, investing in our communities and investing in our future as Cherokees and as Oklahomans,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “The partnerships we have carefully cultivated with area schools are some of our most important, because together we are creating a positive and long-lasting effect in northeast Oklahoma.”
Classroom donations from tribal vehicle tag revenue have increased 370 percent, from $1.26 million originally, since the program began in 2002.
School superintendents have no restrictions and can use the funds at the district’s discretion.
“Students have different interests, and we want them all to enjoy coming to school every day. This donation helps sponsor cultural events, academic teams, athletic teams, our 4-H program, our archery program and cheerleading, which are activities that make education more enjoyable for our students, which, in turn, helps our attendance, as well as ensuring students stay academically eligible to participate,” said Brushy Public Schools Superintendent Greg Reynolds. “We also use the donation for ACT testing for our eighth-grade students. In the near future we are planning on adding a school band and a robotics program. None of this would be possible if it were not for the generous donation from the Cherokee Nation.”
Since 2002, the tribe has awarded $40.1 million total in education donations from car tag revenue to about 100 school districts in northeast Oklahoma. School districts receive $165 per Cherokee Nation student enrolled this year. The districts receiving money educate more than 28,000 Cherokee students, although the contributions benefit all students and classrooms in those school districts.
“With the success of car tag sales expanding statewide, the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission is so grateful to be able to make a positive impact in more classrooms than ever before,” said Tax Commission Administrator Sharon Swepston. “On behalf of my staff and commission, I want to thank our citizens for choosing to purchase a Cherokee Nation tag and helping make these contributions possible.”
School districts in the following counties received the following donation amounts during the 2016 Public School Appreciation Day event.
• Adair $412,260
• Cherokee $780,516
• Craig $137,309
• Delaware $337,319
• Mayes $411,764
• Muskogee $495,970
• Nowata $79,739
• Ottawa $73,452
• Rogers $469,004
• Sequoyah $409,448
• Tulsa $788,291
• Wagoner $132,181
• Washington $147,401
• Osage $3,474
• Washington $147,401
• Osage $3,474
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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