Wyandotte Nation Board of Directors and Chief Billy Friend
presented Wyandotte Public Schools with a $100,000 check in
response to state budget cuts to education. The check was
administered on Tuesday in the Tribal Administration Building.
Wyandotte Superintendent Troy Gray said the donation was a
"Godsend" and couldn't have come at a better time. From left,
Wyandotte Nation Board of Directors: Vivian Fink, Ramona Reid,
Second Chief Norman Hildebrand and Chief Billy Friend; From
left,Wyandotte Board of Education: Danny Douthit, board president;
Troy Gray, superintendent; Jeff Parmley, clerk and Russell
Fent, deputy clerk. (photo by Kimberly Barker - Miami (OK)
Wyandotte, OK - Wyandotte Public Schools received a benevolent
donation from the Wyandotte Nation on Tuesday: A check for $100,000
to help aid the blow from crippling state budget cuts.
Public School Superintendent Troy Gray (right) shakes hands
with Wyandotte Nation Chief Billy Friend (left) after receiiving
the $100,000 donation to the district. (photo by Kimberly
Barker - Miami (OK) News Record)
The tribe's Board of Directors and Chief Billy Friend presented
the check to superintendent of Wyandotte Public Schools, Troy Gray
and the school board at the Tribal Administration Building.
Friend said the tribe has stayed informed on how the state cuts
have impacted local public school systems and wanted to lend a helping
hand to its community partner.
"On behalf of the Wyandotte Nation, the Board of Directors,
our tribal members, we just want to say how much we appreciate the
Wyandotte school system," Friend said. "It is a part of our community,
it's a part of us, it's our namesake and we are very proud of the
Wyandotte Schools. We appreciate the job Superintendent (Troy) Gray
and the school board does. You guys do an excellent job. You are
great stewards with the budget.
"This is not something where Troy came to me, nobody solicited
this donation, but we read the newspapers, we see the headlines,
and we know small schools are taking a big hit lately and we just
happen to be in a position to help and that is what we want to do,"
Friend said the money is not earmarked for anything specific
and the schools can use the money to address any need they may have.
Superintendent Gray was very appreciative of the donation, citing
the great partnership the schools and the Wyandotte Nation have
in the community.
"It's a blessing and Wyandotte Public Schools is so grateful
to have a tribe like Wyandotte Nation," Gray said. "They've always
been there. They're not just a partner to Wyandotte Schools, but
they're also a partner in the community. We consider ourselves one.
Times are really tough right now in the state of Oklahoma, throughout,
and we have a tough time meeting budgets. This money comes as a
blessing for us - not to just buy things that you wish you had,
but also to protect what you need. One thing is to make sure that
all of your students have what they need in the classroom."
Gray said the money will be saved for future needs and to help
ride out the storm of approaching budget cuts. The potential cuts
to education are still not definite, but the rumors are to prepare
for at least a 5 percent cut next year.
"We're going to earmark this because we're expecting another
5 to 6 percents cuts again come January," Gray said. "We're going
to make sure to be very frugal with this money and make sure that
whatever we need for our students and our staff to protect them
is going to be there and this will help fill that hole."
With Christmas around the corner and questions rising in regard
to next year's budget, Gray said the timing of the donation couldn't
have been better.
"The timing is just unbelievable and it is a Godsend," Gray
said. "We appreciate Wyandotte Nation because we have a lot of question
marks and we spend a lot of hours analyzing budget with a lot of
concerns. We're not sure where we're going to be at, and for them
to come down, help us out, be a friend and a partner, this is just
an amazing situation for us."
Friend said the tribe and the board discussed donating the money
to the school district about three months ago.
"I was in a meeting and I brought it up to the board," Friend
said. "The board was unanimous in their approval of the donation.
We've just always worked well (together). The school has helped
us out in the past when it comes to busing or other issues and have
allowed us to use their facilities. We've always had that relationship
where we can work together. We realize the budget cuts that are
taking place statewide, and we were in a position, financially,
to be able to help. We felt like it was a great opportunity for
us to give back."
According to Gray, $100,000 is equivalent to about three teacher
salaries. After the check presentation, he announced the donation
to his staff, teachers and students with the school's One Call System.
"I think this lets the teachers now that there is a partner
who cares, recognizes what they do, how special they are and the
impact they make on kids," Gray said. "Wyandotte Nation has always
been a great friend and stepped up to the plate. We're blessed.
A lot of district don't have this opportunity. Chief Friend, Mayor
Leon Crow and the Wyandotte School District is one community, one
family and a lot of places don't have that."
Matt Robertson is a Wyandotte history teacher, a parent and
a school board member of another local school. He has been a teacher
at the district for 11 years, where he teaches juniors and seniors.
Robertson has also served on a local school board for about a year
and has two children who attend Wyandotte.
"The donation is absolutely awesome because it seems real cut
and dry when it comes to school finances if you're on the outside,
but now that I have a year's worth of experience on the school board,
I'm starting to see things from the other side, now," Robertson
said. "As a teacher, you're always wondering why you don't have
funding for this or funding for that. Now, I see how the budget
works and it has changed my perspective. You look up and see $100,000
donated from the tribe, it's kind of perplexing how much impact
that can really have on just giving us some cushion from budget
cuts. It's really a big deal."
Robertson said he wishes he had more of an opportunity to to
say thank you to Friend and the tribe.
"What the tribe does and in cooperating with our school district
on a regular basis, it's been magnificent," Robertson said. "They
take groups of our students on trips all across the country to study
Wyandotte Nation History. When you get kids that are getting those
opportunities with the tribe and they make sure we appreciate the
history of the tribe, as a history teacher, that is huge to me.
Then, they up and do this to help school budget. I think it goes
a long way to show that we have a really unique relationship here
in Wyandotte that most towns don't have."
Sheri Compton, a reading specialist at Wyandotte Schools, said
they are grateful to have received such a generous donation from
the tribe. Her children are Wyandotte alumnus and she has been teaching
at the district for 16 years.
Compton currently teaches kindergarten through fifth grade.
She said her students were ecstatic about the news.
"They're very excited and they're wondering how it will impact
them," Compton said. "The administration is not yet sure what the
money will be allocated for."
Despite slashing budget cuts, Compton said the Wyandotte teachers'
morale has remained positive.
"That's one thing about Wyandotte, our morale has always been good,
but it sure was nice getting that support," Compton said. "It was
a very good feeling to know that we are supported by our community."
Ultimately, Friend said he hopes this donation proves how much
the tribe and the community cares about the Wyandotte School District.
"I hope the school realizes that there are people in the community
that truly care about the job that they do, that there is work for
them and we support what they do each and every day," Friend said.
"We realize that we entrust our greatest asset to them - our children.
Hopefully, this is a small step going forward that they know there
are others in the community that do support them. If we're in a
position to help in the future, we will help them again. We hope
this is something we can continue to do, to give back."