Cherokee Nation officials
provide a record $6.3 million to public schools during its
annual Public School Appreciation Day virtual event on April
TAHLEQUAH After a year of uncertainty due to the pandemic
and Oklahoma schools struggling to provide for students because
of it, the Cherokee Nation on April 7 provided a record $6.3 million
to 107 school districts during a virtual Public School Appreciation
The tribe has provided such funds annually since 2002 via revenue
from motor vehicle tag sales, allocating 38% to education This year
funds equated to $217.09 per student for nearly 30,000 students
who are CN citizens, though funding helps all students.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. spoke to school leaders about
the difficult year they faced when all Oklahoma schools were forced
to close in March 2020.
"You've gone through the worst public health crisis in generations,"
Hoskin said. "You've had to make some of the toughest decisions
of any leaders around that I know in terms of what to do with your
school on any given day during times of great uncertainty. We've
done our best to be there for you. So we'll be there with you in
the good times and tough times. But you've got a friend in the Cherokee
Most schools in the past have used funds for teacher salaries,
operations, technology or other improvements. This year most schools
are using funds to recover and respond to the effects of the pandemic
on their school systems, according to a CN press release.
Westville Public Schools in Adair County are using funds to support
COVID-19 protocols and the driver's education program.
"We have received a driver's education car, masks and PPE to help
during COVID-19, along with extra funding to help us deal with COVID,"
said Westville Superintendent Terry Heustis. "Of course, we also
receive motor vehicle tag money that has no strings attached and
we have used it in multiple ways over the years. It always comes
when we need an extra hand."
Sand Springs Schools are using funds to enhance technological capabilities
"The Cherokee Nation's generosity has enabled our district to enhance
our capability to provide mobile devices to all students and to
provide support for connectivity. This is helping us address inequities
that exist among our students," said Sand Springs Superintendent
In 2020, the CN Tax Commission also had to work through hard times
to provide services to CN citizens so that motor vehicle tag sales
could continue, including mail-in and online sales and renewals.
"We get an abundance of mail that comes in, which is something
that we figured when we were closed during COVID how difficult it
was with all of that coming in," said Tax Commission Administrator
Sharon Swepston. "I want to thank my staff for all of their hard
work over this past year. I know it has been very trying in some
instances but they have pulled together as a team and they have
done very well and I just appreciate so much all of the hard work
that they do."
CN Executive Director of Education Corey Bunch announced that the
CN will also begin offering virtual tutoring services for students
in the tribe's reservation in grades k-12.
"We've had many parents, many educators, many school leaders reach
out to us about some of the learning losses taking place because
of the pandemic," Bunch said. "We're excited to announce that we
have just entered into a contract with Varsity Tutors, which is
a company that has created a digital platform to provide tutoring
services, instructors and experts in the education field to connect
one on one with students."
Per County Funding
An info graph shows how
much per county the Cherokee Nation has funded public schools
during its annual Public School Appreciation day.