Voters in the Luther Public School District will be choosing between two candidates for a vacated seat on the school board.
Jennifer Edmunson and Steven Broudy are the candidates. Each candidate told The Luther Register they are fairly new to the area, first time candidates and are both surprised to find themselves in the race.
Edmunson’s family moved to the area about seven years ago and she home educates her two children who remain in the home. She became interested in the district during the school bond campaign earlier this year.
“I go in knowing that I’m looked at as an outsider; I home school. I understand the skepticism of why I want to be on the board. I get that. Honestly, I go back and forth because it’s easier and it’s safer to stay on this side,” said Edmunson.
“My concern is the children’s education. And the backup these teachers are receiving from the school district,” she said. “Before you can even get to that, you have got to know the financial ground that the school district is on.”
Edmunson has been investigating financial records of the district focusing on the transportation and agriculture building bond. She said the more she finds, “the worse it gets.”
Broudy said his family moved to the area in 2003. A graduate of Bethel High School, he works at the OG&E power plant in Luther and has three children in the Luther Public Schools.
Broudy said although he hasn’t investigated the numbers as of yet, he is interested in improving the district so his children will be proud to be LPS graduates.
“I am a big fan of small schools and think Luther is a great place to raise our family. I know there is some antagonism in the district but we are all in the same boat, and we can work through our problems to arrive on the same shore,” he said.
The school board campaign comes at a time when the district is not on secure financial footing with budget cuts on the table at the board meeting next week, including the implementation of a possible 4-day school week beginning in January. In addition, the State Auditor & Inspector will conduct an official audit, following a citizen petition drive. The audit will not begin for at least four to six months.
Superintendent Sheldon Buxton replied to an email from The Luther Register on the issue of the school board election, audit and budget concerns. The email is copied here:
“I will cooperate fully with the auditor’s office. I have responded to many open records requests in the interest of transparency and I have an open door policy for anyone that has questions about finances or issues with the District. As to school board candidates, I believe the education of the students in the community is of the utmost importance and I welcome all persons who are interested in serving the students of Luther. Budget concerns may be best addressed with some budgeting issues that have led to the concerns of how to manage decreasing revenue from the state and also the legal issues that resulted in significance loss of revenue for the Luther School District. I will post these articles on the web site for public review to assist in the transparency for the District,” said Dr. Buxton.
The school board election is in February, 2016. The school board seat was occupied by former Board Chairman Aaron Bachhofer who resigned recently. The current school board of only four members is expected to act on that resignation at next week’s board meeting.
More extensive articles exploring each candidate’s platform coming soon.