Sale of tribal car tags provides $559K to Rogers County school districts

Pictured left to right: (Front Row) Foyil Superintendent Rod Carter, Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor, Speaker Joe Byrd, Tribal Councilor Dick Lay, Cherokee Nation Tax Commissioner Mike Doublehead, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Tax Administrator Sharon Swepston, Tax Commissioner Fan Robinson, Tribal Councilor Keith Austin, Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen. Back row: Justus-Tiawah Superintendent Ed Crum, Claremore Executive Director Dawn Nipps, Inola Principal Rebecca Cutsinger, Verdigris Superintendent Mike Payne, Sequoyah-Claremore Johnson-O’Malley Superintendent Hellen Henry, Sequoyah-Claremore Superintendent Terry Saul, Catoosa Cherokee Elementary Principal Benjamin Malone, Catoosa Assistant Superintendent Della Parrish, Catoosa Director of Federal Programs Paula Haueter, Catoosa Wells Middle School Principal Scott Bein, Catoosa Superintendent Donna Campo, Chelsea Superintendent Richard McSpadden.

TULSA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation contributed more than $5.7 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.

Funds provided to the schools are from the sale of tribal car tags. The Cherokee Nation allocates 38 percent of car tag revenue each year to education, providing a boost to Oklahoma public schools and fill education funding gaps.

“Funds from the sale of Cherokee Nation car tags often act as a lifeline to local school districts that may be struggling financially to meet the needs of students and teachers,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “I am proud of the tribe’s continued investment in our children. By being an invaluable partner to public education in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation is helping ensure a better future for our families and our communities.”

School districts have total discretion on how to use the funding. In recent years, schools have used the funds to cover teacher salaries, operations, technology improvements or school programs.

Inola Public Schools in Rogers County received $51,335 this year. The district will be using funds to replace outdated computers and to create a budget that will support the school’s new Science, Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM) lab.

“Our partnership with the Cherokee Nation has been a tremendous asset to our students,” said Inola Superintendent Dr. Kent Holbrook. “The tribe’s commitment to education is unsurpassed. Besides helping with funding, they are constantly providing educational experiences such as field trips, assemblies, and educational materials. We are so grateful for all the wonderful things they do for our kids.”

School districts receive money 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 $56.3 million in education contributions from car tag revenue.

“The Cherokee Nation Tax Commission is grateful to play a role in making a positive impact for these 108 northeast Oklahoma school districts,” Cherokee Nation Tax Commission Administrator Sharon Swepston said. “This $5.7 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.”

These Rogers County schools received funds totaling the following amounts during the 2019 Public School Appreciation Day event:

Catoosa Public Schools - $64,686.60

Chelsea Public Schools - $53,780.13

Claremore Public School - $154,006.75

Foyil Public Schools - $27,454.19

Inola Public Schools - $51,335.58

Justus-Tiawah Schools - $22,377.05

Oologah-Talala Public Schools - $62,806.17

Sequoyah Public Schools - $67,883.32

Verdigris Public Schools - $54,908.39

Total - $559,238.18