(L-R): Front: Muldrow Superintendent Ron Flanagan, District 6 Tribal Councilor Daryl Legg, District 5 Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith, Cherokee Nation Tax Commission Administrator Sharon Swepston, Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation Tax Commissioner Fan Robinson, Cherokee Nation Tax Commission Chairman Steve Wilson, Speaker of the Council Joe Byrd, Gore Business Manager Belinda Madding, Gore Superintendent Lucky McCrary. Back: Vian Treasurer Ed Brockman, Vian Superintendent Victor Salcedo, Central Superintendent Larry Henson, Bell/Belfonte Superintendent Paul Pinkerton, Gans Superintendent Larry Calloway, Marble City Superintendent Wade Stafford, Liberty Administrative Assistant Mark Steely, Moffett Dean of Students Edward Smith, Gore Native American Programs representative Rhonda Eagle, Sallisaw Superintendent Randy Wood.
The Cherokee Nation contributed more than $6 million to 108 school districts during the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day on Thursday. This year’s disbursement is the largest since the tribe began its annual contributions in 2002.
Aside from the millions of dollars the Cherokee Nation and other tribes provide to the state of Oklahoma for education funding each year through the tribal-state gaming compact, the Cherokee Nation also allocates 38 percent of its annual car tag revenue directly to education.
“The Cherokee Nation has long been a great partner to schools in northeast Oklahoma because we know, especially in this endeavor, that we are all in it together,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “The long-term friendship forged between the Cherokee Nation and public schools is providing an indispensable pathway to opportunity for tens of thousands of young people living in our communities. I believe we will see the results of this friendship for generations to come, and it is such an honor to see a record of more than $6 million being presented to schools this year.”
School superintendents from across northeastern Oklahoma gathered at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa for a luncheon Thursday and received their schools’ checks from the tribe.
“It’s always an honor to gather with school administrators, teachers, and everyone who plays such an important role in helping guide our young people while they are in the school system,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “There’s an old saying that education isn’t just the filling of a pail, but more like the lighting of a fire. I think that’s the task these educators have taken on, to help light that fire for students and create within them a passion and a desire to succeed. When the Cherokee Nation contributes this funding each year, we’re helping educators in more than 100 school districts fulfill that mission.”
School districts have total discretion on how to use the funding. In recent years, schools have used the money to cover teacher salaries, operations, technology improvements or school programs.
Tribal car tag funds at Vian Public Schools are used to offset state funding cuts and to purchase instructional materials and technology, according to Superintendent Victor Salcedo. This year, the school received more than $88,000.
“The money that the district receives is important to our district. The Cherokee Nation has been very helpful to our district just not by the money that we receive, but other educational programs that the Cherokee Nation has helped us with,” Salcedo said. “We really appreciate the partnership and we look forward to working along with the Cherokee Nation.”
School districts receive money based on the number of Cherokee Nation citizens they have enrolled, though funding benefits all students.
Since 2002, the Cherokee Nation has awarded school districts in northeastern Oklahoma $62.3 million in education contributions from car tag revenue.
“The Cherokee Nation Tax Commission is always grateful to play a role in making so many positive impacts for these 108 Oklahoma school districts,” Cherokee Nation Tax Commission Administrator Sharon Swepston said. “This $6 million will make a big difference in our communities, and I want to thank Cherokee Nation citizens for choosing to purchase a tribal car tag to help make these contributions possible each year.”
These Sequoyah County schools received funds totaling the following amounts during the 2020 Public School Appreciation Day event:
Sallisaw Public Schools - $111,398.06
Belfonte Public School - $15,391.79
Brushy Public School - $35,016.31
Central Public Schools - $40,595.84
Gans Public School - $21,356.10
Gore Public Schools - $37,517.48
Liberty Public School - $12,890.62
Marble City Schools - $12,890.62
Moffett Public School - $11,543.84
Muldrow Public Schools - $71,956.60
Roland Public Schools - $38,479.47
Vian Public Schools - $88,117.98
KXMX News Staff
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