Union Public Schools!
Union Public Schools, whose 19 sites are located in portions of SE Tulsa and NW Broken Arrow, has an enrollment of about 16,000 students. The number of businesses, higher education, foundation, and community partnerships investing in the district’s key areas of emphasis -- Early Childhood Education, Community Schools, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Curriculum, and College/Career Readiness remains constant.
The district slogan, “Together We Make a Difference,” continues to be underscored as student engagement continued to soar, and great strides were made toward accomplishing Union’s mission – To Graduate 100 Percent of Our Students College and/or Career Ready. Download brochure.
The following core values serve to guide our strategic focus and actions in accomplishing our mission:
"Our mission is to graduate 100 percent of our students, college and career ready."Together We Make a Difference
These strategic goals in the following focus areas provide guidance for leadership, policy decisions, and development of initiatives, programs, and strategies to achieve our mission. See Strategic Plan
In order to fulfill our mission of graduating 100 percent of our students college and career ready, Union focuses on four main areas: Early Childhood Education, Community Schools, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and the Union Collegiate Academy Experience.
Union is accredited by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
Union contines to see significant growth in its student population. During the 2004-2005 school year, the district recorded total enrollment of 13,969. In 2021-2022, Union served 15,011 students – 6,927 at the elementary level and 8,084 in grades 6-12. See Statistics and Reports for a breakdown on specifics.
About the District
The eighth largest public school district in Oklahoma, Union has approximately 15,000 students, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, residing within a 28-square-mile boundary encompassing both southeast Tulsa and a portion of Broken Arrow. The school system is the heart of the community and serves as a unifying force. It includes an early childhood center for three-year-olds; 13 elementary schools pre-kindergarten through fifth grade; five secondary schools—a 6th/7th Grade Center, 8th Grade Center, the High School Freshman Academy, High School (Grades 10-12,) and an Alternative School for grades 9-12.
In addition, Union's Adult Education Learning Center serves northeastern Oklahoma, offering GED classes, English as a Second Language and more.
Parents choose the Union district for its all-around excellence. They take great pride in its wide-ranging, dynamic academic programs; award-winning activities; caring, talented teachers; highly respected elected and administrative leaders; and remarkable facilities. Union is one of the leading districts in Oklahoma in the number of teachers earning National Board Certification and in number of Presidential Math and Science Award recipients.
Union’s Community Schools — schools complete with health clinics and services from community agencies — serve as a model to other districts nationwide. They increase academic success by forming community partnerships to provide extra supports such as early care, health and social services, out-of-school activities, family/community engagement, neighborhood development and lifelong learning.
In addition to challenging Pre-Advanced Placement (AP) classes, Union offers a variety of Advanced Placement classes which allow students to earn college credit while learning about a subject in depth. In partnership with Tulsa Community College (TCC), Union was the first to pilot a unique concurrent enrollment program - EDGE - Earn a Degree, Graduate Early – on its High School campus, enabling qualifying students to earn both high school and college credits at the same time – virtually tuition free!
Union’s Collegiate Academy at the High School provides students a challenging college-like experience with instructors from Tulsa Community College, tiered lecture halls, advanced science labs, student lounges, and specialty food shops, along with a safety net of high school staff members there to ensure their success. Counselors in the College and Career Center help students and their parents complete college entrance, financial aid, and scholarship applications or bank college credit through Tulsa Technology Center.
The Union community provides whatever it takes to ensure all students graduate college/career ready. Successful bond issues have funded state-of-the-art tools to enhance reading, language, math, science, and writing skills at every grade level. Art, music, and physical education enrich the traditional curriculum. Professionals in remedial reading, speech therapy, and special education are assigned to the schools along with library media specialists, nurses, and counselors. Courses for gifted students are offered at all levels, as are programs for English Language Learners.
In 2020-2021, Union’s enrollment dropped by 857 students. With a 5.4 percent decrease over the previous year, Union served 14,959 students – 6,959 at the elementary level and 8,000 in grades 6-12.
Districtwide, 7,342 students (49.1 percent) were female and 7,617 (50.9 percent) male.
In terms of racial origin, 4.2 percent were American Indian/Alaska Native, 14.9 percent African American, 9.5 percent multi-racial, 0.2 percent Pacific Islander/Hawaiian, 7.3 percent Asian, 25.7 percent Caucasian, and 38.2 percent of Hispanic ethnicity.
There were 2,763 identified gifted students in grades 1-12, served by a variety of courses and programs.
Of the graduating seniors in 2021:
More than 1,945 students (13%) were enrolled in special education.
English Learner services were provided to 2,521 elementary and 1,408 secondary students; of these students, 346 became English-proficient and exited the program. Union’s diverse population spoke more than 60 different languages. An estimated 25 percent of Union students were classified as English Learners.
Union’s Extended Day Program served 644 students at 15 sites over the course of the year in 2020-2021 – despite the large number of students attending school virtually due to COVID. Union’s resource room kept sites supplied with cooking activities, STEM projects, art activities and much more to enhance the curriculum. Students often ask their parents for just a little more time to play at pick-up time!
Union continued serving students receiving tribal assistance with childcare. At the end of the previous school year, Union added assistance through Cherokee Nation and Muscogee Nation at nine of its sites. The tribes require that a parent request childcare assistance through them before they will extend an agreement. As those requests come in, Union immediately submits the paperwork for approval for any additional sites. Union also accepts DHS childcare assistance at all sites for those families that qualify.
Staff development opportunities for EDP staff were limited to online training events offered by the Department of Human Services and the University of Oklahoma Center for Early Childhood Professional Development. Topics included Bullying in the Public Schools – Setting the Appropriate Tone for Prevention/Intervention; Trust-Based Relational Intervention for Out of School Time Professionals; district safety training and the Pyramid Model school-age training. Union offered School-Age Trauma and CPR/First Aid training in small groups in person. All training was approved for formal training credit through the University of Oklahoma Center for Early Childhood Development. Each staff member is required to be a member of the CECPD registry and take 20 to 30 hours of training annually.
For more than 25 years, Union Public Schools has served the community with an adult basic education program to assist adults through GED/HiSET Preparation classes and/or English language learning for non-native English speakers. During the 2020-2021 school year, Union’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) program enrolled about 1,000 students in these classes.
Through partnerships with local Workforce Development offices and other community agencies, the Union Adult Learning Center (UALC) embraces the opportunity to serve students not only in Tulsa, but also in the neighboring communities of Claremore, Muskogee, Owasso, and Pryor. These partners include, but are not limited to, Community Action Project of Tulsa, Workforce Tulsa, Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa Community College, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, Women in Recovery, Family and Children’s Services, Rogers State University, Workforce Pryor, Workforce Muskogee, Muskogee Public Schools, Owasso Public Schools, Whirlpool Inc., and local churches.
The Pearson Vue Testing Center at UALC offers various certification testing for individuals including Teacher Certification testing and high school equivalency testing (HiSet). During the 2020-2021 school year, nearly 2,200 HiSet, GED and/or Pearson tests were given, with about 200 individuals earning their High School Equivalency diplomas.
Parent and Community Involvement
Union is part of a community that consistently supports the school system. More than 2,000 volunteers from throughout the community work in its schools.
The Parent Teacher Association is active in all the schools and works with Union to provide equipment and scholarships for students and supplies for teachers. The Union Schools Education Foundation, which was established in 1991, raises and distributes funds to teachers for classroom-based projects. In addition, a number of parents are active in booster clubs for athletics and spirit programs, as well as band, music and drama.
The Community Action Project partners with Union to provide the program for three year-olds, while the Community Service Council, the City/County Health Department and a number of organizations such as the YMCA and Boy Scouts of America team with the district to offer a variety of services and programs.
Teaching and Learning
There were 150 3-and 4-year-old students, who participated in programs at the Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center. District wide, 650 four-year-olds enrolled in pre-lindergarten classes.
The Kreuger Book Program at the Tulsa City-County Library provided Pre-K students with new age-appropriate books each month so they can create their own personal libraries at home. During the 2020-2021 school year, 4,239 books were distributed to Pre-K students at Boevers, Clark, Grove, Jarman, Jefferson, McAuliffe, Ochoa, and Rosa Parks elementary schools.
Union Public Schools launched a new Intro to Construction class at the Freshman Academy with help from the Home Builders Association, Hardesty Family Foundation, and Hilti.
Union Public Schools hosted a listening tour about its Community Schools initiative for state officials, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. The tour was created for Oklahoma districts that are considering implementing aspects of Union’s model.
McAuliffe Elementary was recertified as a Leader in Me School by the Franklin Covey Education Team. Lighthouse recertification is achieved only when a school shows sustainable evidence of growth and innovation within the Leader in Me Framework. As it is a significant benchmark, applying for this certification typically occurs four to five years after a school begins the process. The certification is evidence that schools have produced outstanding results in school and student outcomes by implementing the process with fidelity and excellence. It is also because of the extraordinary impact the schools are having on staff, students, parents, and the greater community.
Union’s Community Schools philosophy seeks to equalize the playing field for students and families by removing barriers to learning and by providing access to basic needs and layered supports.
During the 2020-2021 school year, Union partnered with more than 60 community organizations to support our students and families. Community School liaisons coordinate a range of comprehensive support for students and families from infancy through adulthood. Schools serve as hubs for programming that includes expanded learning opportunities, early childhood programs, family engagement, and a variety of social services and supports.
Offering these opportunities at the school creates an environment where students and families feel safe, supported, and engaged. This system of support also helps alleviate challenges associated with poverty and trauma while helping improve academic outcomes for students and supporting their social and emotional development. Ultimately, these efforts will help Union achieve its mission of “100% Graduation, College and Career-Ready.”
Five Union schools received grants from the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Flight Night for special programming, and eight schools received funding for a virtual STEM series offered through the Tulsa Children’s Museum. The grants total $21,736 for Community Schools programming needs.
One critical component of the Community Schools strategy is offering students a wide range of expanded learning opportunities at the school site. How children spend their time outside of school matters just as much as how they spend their time in school. Union’s afterschool programs promote the development of 21st Century Skills and the opportunity to build relationships with caring peers and adults, who become part of the student’s support system. In doing so, we prepare students to be successful in their education and in their future careers. This goal is closely aligned with the district’s mission.
During the 2020-2021 school year:
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Curriculum
All 13 of Union’s elementary schools were recognized as Project Lead the Way’s Distinguished School Launch Program for 2019-2020.
Robotics continues to grow at Union, beginning with several FIRST Lego League groups at the elementary level. The Bazinga Project and Project Agnizab for grades 8-12 are aimed primarily at middle school students, creating our FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team. Both compete to solve real-world problems using STEM and problem-solving skills, learning to work together as a team. UBotics, Union’s High School Robotics Team for grades 9-12, come together to design, program, and build a robot that meets specific criteria to accomplish tasks in FIRST Robotics Competitions.
907 students graduated in the Class of 2021.
Union High School seniors Shrea Tyagi and Anna Hemm were named 2021 Academic All-State Students by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
For the ninth consecutive year, Union Public Schools has been recognized by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education as the Oklahoma’s Promise 2020 State 6A Champion for having 167 seniors from the class of 2020 qualify for the Oklahoma’s Promise Scholarship.
Twelve seniors were named 2020-2021 National Merit Finalists and five won National Merit Scholarships. Two more were recognized as Commended Students as part of the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program.
Since its inception in 2014, Union Career Connect has garnered 950 nationally recognized certifications for 370 students in fields including, Manufacturing, Information Technology, Culinary, Early Childhood Education, Law Enforcement, and Construction.
Twenty-four Advanced Placement courses were provided, and 319 students took a total of 584 exams. Two hundred thirteen students (67% percent) earned a score of “3” or higher. Eighty-four students received AP Scholars recognition, with an average score of 3.64. Of the 84 scholars, 33 students earned National AP Scholar with Distinction recognition with an average test score of 4.20 on five o more exams.
Students attending college classes offered at the Union Collegiate Academy (UCA) through a dual credit partnership with Tulsa Community College have earned 20,493 credits since the program began in 2010.
The EDGE (Earn a Degree, Graduate Early) program, one of the first “early college” programs in Oklahoma – in partnership with Tulsa Community College – has 175 students enrolled. There are 31 seniors who have earned at least 36 hours of college credit, 45 juniors who have earned at least 9 hours of college credit, 47 sophomores who are working on their first 6 hours of college credit, and 62 freshmen who are learning what it takes to be a college student in high school. Each student enrolled in EDGE can earn an associate degree by the time he/she graduates from high school.
Union had its first graduates under the EDGE (Earn a Degree, Graduate Early) program. EDGE, a pilot program launched in 2018 in partnership with Tulsa Community College, enables high school students to earn an associate degree at no cost to the student while they earn their high school diploma.
For the 2020-21 School Year, Union Virtual recorded a large increase in participation due to safety concerns due to the pandemic. Union expanded its pilot program to all grade levels and experienced an enrollment of 3,500 students at its peak. Utilizing our own teachers, Union served secondary students through the Edgenuity program, with some courses on Canvas that were created by Union teachers. Elementary, also utilizing Union teaching staff, served virtual students through both the Seesaw online program and live Zoom video sessions.
Employee Statistics & Achievements
Union employed 1,017 teachers, 852 support personnel, and 83 administrators. Of the district’s 83 administrators, 90.4% had a master’s degree or higher. Of the teaching and administrative staff, 41.5% held graduate-level degrees – 437 with master’s degrees and 19 with doctorates. Twenty-five teachers held National Board Certification.
The district welcomed 111 new teachers for the 2020-2021 school year.
The ethnic diversity among the staff was 7% African American, 15% American Indian, 3% Asian, and 80% Caucasian/other. Four hundred and eleven were male and 1,541 female.
Rebecka Peterson, a math teacher at Union High School, was named the 2023 National Teacher of the Year – after she had already been named the 2020-2021 Union Public Schools District Teacher of the Year and Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year in 2022!
Also in 2023, Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler was named State Superintenent of The Year. Assistant Superintendent John Federline received his doctorate in the summer of 2023 as well.
The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting – the top recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting – was awarded to Union’s Finance Department by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. They have received the award every year since 1992.
Fine Arts 2020-2021
Student engagement districtwide in Fine Arts was strong, though down some due to the pandemic in 2020-2021, with
Home of Two 2022 State Championship Girls Wrestling Teams
6A Girls Varsity Wrestling & Junior High Girls Wrestling
Athletic Achievements 2021-2022
More than 1,400 students (grades 7-12) were involved in Union’s 23 competitive athletics and spirit programs, and participation was close to 1,700 in K-12 in the district’s 139 non-competitive teams and spirit squads.
• Union Volleyball, OSSAA Regional Runner-Up
• Shawn Rutledge – OSSAA Cross Country Individual Regional Runner-Up
• Makenzie Malham – Oklahoma Girls Soccer Gatorade Player of the Year – Soccer
• Union Girls Soccer, OSSAA District Champions
• Union Baseball, OSSAA District 6A-3 Champions & OSSAA Regional Champions
• Union Varsity Cheer, National Champions, Game Day Division – NCA
• Union Pom, DTU National Championship Runner-Ups
• OSSAA State Semi-Finalist
• OSSAA District 6A-2 MVP, Union Football’s A.J. Green
• OSSAA District 6A-2, All-District Team, Marlee Forsberg, Tsiah Dorn, Shea Dan, Caleb Caylao, and Shane Fields
More than 7,600 students rode the bus on a regular basis during the 2020-21 school year. Union’s buses completed 346 routes per day, transporting students to and from school. Transportation maintained a fleet of 118 school buses and 94 support vehicles. The district ran 727 trips, 12 Tulsa Tech daily shuttles and two vehicles dedicated to the McKinney-Vento/Foster Care programs.
The district purchased 139,027 gallons of diesel fuel and 41,496 gallons of unleaded fuel for a combined cost of $305,581.
The Child Nutrition Department served 884,247 breakfasts, 1,282,602 lunches, and 531,647 supper meals during the 2020-21 school year. Child Nutrition provided free breakfast, lunch, and supper for all students, averaging about 5,700 breakfasts, 9,800 lunches, and 900 supper meals per day.
The Child Nutrition department trained about 170 employees in culinary arts and safe food handling, has four chefs, and four dietitians. The number of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch has steadily increased over recent years and is currently at 67 percent.
The district purchased fresh vegetables and fruits and local grass-fed beef from six local farms. These local products have been served on the menus every day in August and September, and Union will continue to offer local products each month. Child Nutrition purchases have enabled farmers to increase their revenue, continue farming, and hire additional farm help.
Eight elementary schools participated in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant,which provided fresh produce for snacks every day in the classroom.
The district’s two nutrition educators developed seven nutrition videos called “Food for U” that are used in classrooms and in the homes of virtual learners. These videos are very interactive, and provide interesting history, science, math, geography, and cooking connections with foods. Union High School and elementary students participated in these videos. Union Dietitians also developed video lessons on a new nutrition field called nutritional psychiatry, which will be utilized by teachers to help students understand the importance of nutrition on emotions and feelings and will bolster Union’s efforts in the areas of Hope and Social/Emotional learning. The new program is called Food Mood Connection, and will be introduced at the 6/7 Grade, and eventually be offered in all schools.
Seventeen Union schools are participating in the afterschool supper meal program. The program reduces hunger among students who otherwise might not get a good, healthy afternoon meal and encourages participation in afterschool programs that tend to drive class attendance and performance.
The Grounds Division employs 12 full-time groundsmen, one small-engine mechanic, and one district grounds coordi-nator. The Grounds Division maintains over 450 acres of land. During peak mowing season, each groundsman is responsible for maintaining over 40 acres of land. The grounds division is responsible for mowing, edging, blowing, fertilizing, and treating all district grass and naturally surfaced athletic fields. All landscaping design and maintenance is handled in-house. This includes all district flowerbeds and trees. Grounds is also responsible for:The laydown and removal of large event set-ups across the district, including the portable basketball floor at the UMAC.
Major projects included pouring the large concrete slab for the Alternative Schools trash area, two major water leaks at Union Central Park and baseball, erosion and roof drain repair at Rosa Parks, interior painting of Adult Basic Ed, concrete repairs, and improvements across the district.
The Maintenance Division employs 11 skilled tradesmen, 23 building engineers, and one district maintenance coordinator. Union’s tradesmen include five HVAC technicians, two electricians, one plumber, one kitchen technician, one carpenter, and one locksmith. Our 23 building engineers are responsible for maintaining the mechanical systems of their respective sites.
They also are responsible for minor repairs. In addition:
Safety and Security
The district employed a director of security and a security coordinator, as well as 12 full-time security officers at the secondary schools, two at the elementary school sites and 25 part-time officers for athletic and special events. One Broken Arrow School Resource Officer was on call daily, in addition to nine off-duty Tulsa Police Department officers on a rotating schedule, allowing one to patrol the district each day.
District employees completed more than 18,802 assigned training courses and more than 2,305 unassigned safety courses on their own, for a training completion rate of 82 percent. The security coordinator met with students at elementary sites weekly and performed routine safety walks at all sites, with follow-ups including the site administrator.
Union Multipurpose Activity Center
Facility scheduling not only encompasses the actual event, but all the communications, operations, and maintenance required to prepare, set up, run, and clean up every event. Two employees coordinated 43,355 internal events and 5,614 external rentals involving scheduling, contracts, scheduling conflict resolution, staffing, and set-up and tear-down. The Facilities Department also schedules, stocks, and operates UMAC Concessions, serving 37 UMAC events in 2020-2021.
• Closed 9,476 work orders from September 2020 to June 2021
• Replaced 1,200 expiring student laptops
• Replaced 1/3 of all teacher laptops
• Purchased and deployed a backup/disaster recovery system
• Purchased and configured 350 new teacher laptops
• Held the 8th Annual TASTS conference, a free Educational Technolo-gy symposium for vendors and participants. Traditionally, the event brings together almost 100 vendors and more than 300 participants
• Held first Oklahoma eSports League (OeSL) playoffs at the UMAC
• Sold 1,170 devices to the public at the surplus sale
• Replaced nearly 250 Interactive Panels
• Replaced all secretary/receptionist computers
• Replaced building engineer computers and those in the custodial staff breakroom