A cumbersome Luther Board of Education meeting was marked with citizens’ calls for the ouster of the superintendent, demands for increased integrity from the board, shouts from the audience opposing a four-day school week and assurances that the district is in serious financial trouble.
Superintendent Sheldon Buxton responded briefly to public comments against him saying he was “sorry to hear the attitude in reference to me instead of focusing on the school.” He added that the Oklahoma Department of Education has been upfront with a grim forecast of a ten percent or more budget cut next year.
Still, the board rejected Buxton’s budget proposal for the 2015-2016 school year, by a 3-2 vote, which drew applause from many of the parents, teachers and neighbors in the crowd. The board also asked many questions during a discussion item about Buxton’s proposal to close school on Mondays beginning in January to save money. When asked about the length of the school days on Tuesday – Friday, Buxton didn’t know the answer nor could he answer Board Member Ray Stanfield’s question on how longer school days would affect student’s learning. This issue is expected to be voted on in December along with other proposed cuts.
The last item on the agenda, Item #21 “to disavow actions and communications of school board member Charles DeFuria in relation to claim of Oklahoma City Public Schools for repayment of sinking fund monies” failed. The issue drew shouts from the audience and comments from citizens claiming the issue was a bully tactic.
DeFuria said that he was not acting on behalf of the board but as a board member when he investigated a long-running issue involving nearly $200,000 that the Oklahoma City Public School District says it is owed by LPS. The money relates to property taxes from annexed parts of the district between OKCPS and Edmond. School Board Chairman Aaron Batchhofer and member Michael Mohr voted to disavow their fellow board member DeFuria’s comments, while DeFuria and Stanfield voted no. Board member Sherri Anderson abstained.