On February 9, voters in the Luther School District will choose a new School Board member. And the campaign is quietly heating up. How do voters get information about local elections in a quiet town? (Well, there is this new newspaper that featured articles on Jennifer Edmunson and Steve Broudy when they filed back in December!) The candidates are also having lots of coffee and conversations. And their signs are popping up along the countryside and town streets. And, of course, there’s social media.
It would be hard to NOT know that the school district is in rough financial shape, and it’s getting worse. The state’s “revenue failure” causing an automatic three percent cut to all state agencies has trickled down to Luther with more to come. The February 15 LPS board meeting (with a new school board member) likely will have cuts for the new board to consider – cuts that likely will include layoffs, and assuredly will include cuts to programs.
Back to the campaign. Both Edmunson and Broudy used Facebook this week to do some campaigning and to share their views:
The DOW dropped 500 points today. Oil at a record low. Devon Energy announced layoffs. These things matter, not just to jobs and investments, not just to Oklahoma revenue, but to School Board Elections. All elections, really.
It matters locally because districts are feeling the squeeze. The hard press. Our local district has had funds cut twice already with a third coming. Add to this a 22 year overage we will be expected to repay. The State getting their math together couldn’t have come at a worse time. We are in a perfect financial storm.
Why does this matter to the entire district and not just to those with kids in school? Because of a little thing called a default judgement. If the district’s vendors tire of being paid late or not at all, they will sue and receive a judgement. This judgement is then assessed to all the district’s property owners to be paid via our property taxes. A small bill is not a big deal….it’s the 22 years of overpayment which could be substantial. We could be required to pay this 22 years of overpayment in just 3 years of property tax increase.
We do not know the amount of our total overage. The School District received a letter in December, 2014, and nothing was done. No math. No research. No idea how much we owe.
This election, February 9th, is important because we need to elect someone that understands the financial issues the district faces. We need to elect someone who understands School Law. We need to elect someone who can think outside the box to help solve these difficult issues.
Please vote February 9th. More than in the past, your vote is important to the function of this school district.
Please feel free to share….
Here’s Broudy’s Facebook post
From Steven Broudy: Hello fellow citizens of the Luther Public School (LPS) District,
Some of you know me already, and many of you that do have questioned my judgment on the fact that I have decided to run for the vacant seat on the school board. I not sure about my qualifications, but I’m confident in my motivations. In the last year I have seen some divisive happenings in our community. First was the bond issue and the second was the turmoil surrounding our Superintendent. What struck me most about both those issues was that on both sides there was caring and motivated people. Time and again I observe the generosity, passion, pride, hard work, and love the people of this community have for their schools and children. Whether it’s donating paper towels to Elementary school or cooking dinner for the football team, there is always someone there to help.
With the on going cuts to state aid and other obstacles we may face, it’s time we pull together. To get through this it’s going to take many of us to get outside our comfort zone. I applaud the Dr. Buxton’s idea of a budget task force. I do believe that we need to take it a step further, maybe two. First: add some more people to the team. I would like to see some of the community’s business leaders and a representative of the Ministerial Alliance. Second: an open forum where people of the community can submit their ideas, much like the suggestions that Mr. DeFuria and Mrs. Jane Martin have proposed. The team can review, check feasibility, and prioritize. Implement what we can and then a line by line analysis of the budget asking these questions: Does it make sense? Do we need it? Can we get a better deal? I know it is a lot of work and that is why we need a team. One person is not going to fix this alone. Along with this we will need the creative teams to come up with ideas for fund raising, volunteering at the school, car pools, and any other money saving ideas. All of us have to live within a budget and sometimes life happens, but we do what is necessary.
Lets not forget about our teachers. Our children will be going to school somewhere no matter what happens, but this is the teacher’s livelihood. To the teachers I know and who have taught my children livelihood is not a big enough word. I believe it is more of a calling than a job. They are not doing it to get rich. This is the reason I have changed my opinion on the 4 day school week. The statistics are out there for financial savings and student performance. I have been around long enough to know smart people can skew stats to say what they want. Each District is different, with different needs and different assets. The only way we will know if it works for Luther is to try it. We still need to work on the plan for EOC students and day care. One idea that I have is to start a volunteer program for the older students. Have the businesses, churches and the Town of Luther ask for help with such projects such as picking up trash, painting, landscaping and assisting elderly. On the day off, the students can beautify and help the community while gaining some community service for their transcripts. Hopefully a little ownership and pride will also develop in their hometown. Some incentives such as Sonic gift cards and extra credit on their grades might help too.
The feats Mr. Dunn has accomplished with the Design and Fabrication team are an example of what we can accomplish. Raising the money to finance their tools and materials and instilling skills in those young men are something we all can take a lesson from.
It looks like more and more of the districts around the state are going to the 4 day schedule. Instead of following, I would like to see LPS set the standard and lead. We can be the example other districts want to follow and help them forget some of the bad publicity we have received. Show the rest of the state what I see when I look at our town.
As for my esteemed opponent, win or lose, with her energy and expertise, Jennifer is an asset I hope we can utilize in the future.
Thanks to everyone that has shown me support and now that I have expressed some of my thoughts, I hope you will still come together and make it happen.
Both candidates are vying for a five-year term that doesn’t pay and requires a lot of homework and accountability for the governance of the school district. And there might be a bit of public scrutiny since the board member who resigned called patrons “ambivalent at best and hostile at worst.” With all of that, they still want to run. Have questions for either candidate? Post them here.