Cherokee Nation awards $3.4 million to 91 school districts

02/14/2014

Principal Chief Bill John Baker tells a crowd of 91 school superintendents that state education funding has been under attack and the Cherokee Nation is giving schools a record $3.4 million in tribal car tag sales tax to help.


TAHLEQUAH, Okla.—The Cherokee Nation is helping dozens of northeast Oklahoma school districts fill gaps in education funding.

On Friday, checks totaling $3.4 million were distributed to 91 school districts at the Cherokee Nation’s Public School Appreciation Day, held at Sequoyah High School.

“We are proud to make this record investment to our area schools. Our car tag compact with the state of Oklahoma is important because funds are partially earmarked for education,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “As education budgets continue to be stretched thinner and thinner, the Cherokee Nation’s contributions to schools have only increased. We expect that trend to continue now that we’ve expanded our license plate service area to cover all of Tulsa, Muskogee and other areas. Our local schools are important partners to the Cherokee Nation, so this is a great way to help ensure their continued success.”

Each year the tribe allocates 38 percent of tax revenue from the sale of tribal car tags to help schools in the 14-county tribal jurisdiction. Schools have complete discretion over the funding, which is not earmarked for any specific purpose or student. Schools use the funds to pay for everything from additional teaching salaries, to advanced student coursework, to more classroom technology. Although the funds are allocated based on Cherokee student headcount, the money can be used to help any student or program administrators see fit.

This year’s donation is up from $3.2 million last year.

“With the budget cuts we’ve faced over the past six years at the state level, the funding from the Cherokee Nation is a tremendous benefit to our district and our students, and it will go directly into funding staff positions,” said Don Raleigh, superintendent of Pryor Public Schools. “We appreciate all the tribe does on our behalf.”

The tribe has awarded $31.3 million to northeast Oklahoma schools since the Cherokee Nation entered into a license plate compact with the state in 2001. Next year’s contributions should see an increase, as car tags can now be purchased by Cherokee citizens countywide in Tulsa, Muskogee, Mayes, Rogers and Wagoner counties.

“The Cherokee Nation continues to make a positive impact in the classroom and on student learning,” said Cherokee Nation Tax Administrator Sharon Swepston. “We thank the Cherokee citizens for purchasing our tribal car tags, which makes these contributions to our school districts possible.”

The Cherokee Nation awarded funds to school districts in the following counties:

Adair $347,890
Cherokee $678,629
Craig $118,844
Delaware $293,735
Mayes $325,607
Muskogee $325,067
Nowata $62,258
Ottawa $69,416
Rogers $379,762
Sequoyah $342,218
Tulsa $291,034
Wagoner $73,062
Washington $108,445
Osage $4,726


Cherokee Nation News Release
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