A twenty-minute presentation from a teacher lauding the success of a four-day school week across the state and the nation, and no public comments against the proposal did not convince a majority of Luther School Board members to attempt a one-semester trial of a Tuesday – Friday week.
Superintendent Sheldon Buxton said the two-to-two vote surprised him, and the four-day week proposal that failed once back in the spring, was a way to keep people employed. When asked by Board Chairman Matt Mohr, during discussion, how much money would be saved, Dr. Buxton said he conservatively estimated between $50,000 and $85,000.
School board member Charles DeFuria, however, said the four-day option is “iffy” when it comes to cost saving predictions, and presented his own list. He said not replacing administration resignations such as the Dean of Students, discontinuing the district’s pikepass and cell phone accounts and even trimming things in the budget such as a doormat service for $1,300 would help the bottom line. He also said the district is overstaffed which brought groans from many school employees in the audience.
Terri Tulane, junior high literature teacher, spoke 20 minutes on behalf of the four-day week. She said her research revealed that a four-day week was a great morale and recruiting boost for teachers, helped students with absenteeism, gave more instruction time, and was community supported. She pointed out that students can take care of appointments on an off-day of Monday without missing class, or catch up on rest from over-scheduled lives.And she said the district has to do something to avert cuts in state funding.
Board member Ray Stanfield said he was concerned about taking a step back after the elementary and high schools had worked so hard to improve their failing “grade” with the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
“I have great concerns about the four-day week. I know it would benefit the teachers. But we are looking at the students’ education, and future. I have concerns with them being off for three days,” said Stanfield.
Stanfield and DeFuria voted no, while Sherri Anderson and Board Chairman Matt Mohr voted yes. Former Board Chairman Aaron Bachhofer resigned after the November meeting leaving an empty “fifth vote.”
Dr. Buxton said after the meeting that they will never know whether a four-day week will work in Luther. He said the next step is to work on cuts and there is “no question, that a ‘RIF'(reduction in force) looms next semester.”
Tulane said after the vote that she didn’t think the board members listened to reason, and that the students will suffer if programs like art or music have to be cut.
Other notable items from the December school board meeting:
- School Board candidate Jennifer Edmunson was one of three who signed up for the “public participation forum.” She distributed copies of her analysis of the bond fund and asked for the source of extra funds spent on the ag barn.
- Dr. Buxton updated the board on a pending lawsuit regarding the OSDE’s 1992 assessment error. LPS was one of the districts overpaid for all of those years, until the error was caught recently, while districts who were underpaid want reimbursement and are threatening litigation.
- The board accepted the resignation letters of Dean of Students Dr. Patti Buxton, and Board Chairman Dr. Aaron Bachhofer.
- After an hour-long executive session, the board hired Shawn Meek, high school football coach, as Interim High School Principal
- The board elevated Johnny Vick, high school basketball coach, as Interim Athletic Director.
- The board voted to leave vacant the board seat held by Dr. Bachhofer since “two very good candidates” have filed. “Let’s let the community decide on February 9,” said Mohr.