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July 29, 2017

School Board Meets Tonight: Lack of Money on Tap


School is out today for President’s Day, but the school board will convene tonight for a regular school board meeting.

  • Among the agenda highlights:
  • Administer the oath of office to new school board member, Steve Broudy,
  • Re-organize the board of education (elect officers such as President who works on the board agenda with the superintendent),
  • Listen to proposed cuts for next school year,
  • Listen to a proposed RIF (Reduction in Force) policy for review,
  • Hear the Superintendent’s financial report,
  • Meet behind closed doors to do performance reviews on Principals Wilson and Gunn
  • Take action on hiring a new high school principal (Football Coach Shawn Meek is serving temporarily in the position)
  • Pay some bills

The bills, or encumbrances and claims, amount to $152,000 from the general fund, building fund and child nutrition fund. Some of the bills date back to July of last year and include the utility bills owed to the Town of Luther for water, sewer and trash. Although the Luther Public Works Authority Board last week voted to send a cut-off notice to the school board for two months worth of unpaid water bills, the school board agenda actually lists encumbrances to the Town for water, sewer and garbage at $5,226.12 dating back to last August. No doubt both entities will get to the bottom of that.

That’s not the only unpaid utility bill. The school district owes $12,299.60 to OG&E for electric service.

Other bills are from individuals or small businesses who provide services to the schools such as mechanical work, psychology, therapy and reimbursement to teachers for classroom supplies.

The pervading issue of unpaid encumbrances comes at a time when LPS and all schools in Oklahoma are stripping budgets and jobs after the state failed to prepare for a record loss in tax revenues from the energy industry (which is related to low gasoline pump prices and our strong desire to suddenly go on road trips).

So tonight the board will vote to pay some bills, find out how much less money they have to work with, and hear options of how to right-size their expenses for next school year. Good times.

Meantime, the audit that was presented to the board at the January meeting has been posted at the State Auditor & Inspector’s office. Incidentally, the Luther Register asked for a copy way back a a month ago, but was told it would be available on the state website within 30 days. Okay then.

The $8,400 bill for the audit is on tonight’s encumbrance report as well. Among the findings, the district needs to do a better job of “segregating funds” – meaning more than one person needs to be handling the money.  Whether water bills, money from tickets and the concession stand at games or deposit slips and balance statements – they all need extra eyes and calculators. More on the audit in a future story. (So many stories!)

The meeting begins tonight at 6:30 pm.

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