This time last year, two candidates filed for the seat that was vacated by former School Board President Aaron Bachhofer, who called the public “hostile” in his resignation letter. His resignation came two months after Luther School District voters dramatically defeated a proposed bond measure on various projects by a vote of 598 to 98.
Thankfully Edmunson always answers my requests for comment so I sent her a few questions to answer to mark this anniversary of her filing for her first election; and to add some perspective to this upcoming campaign.
JE: The issue that everything revolves around is the money. I know the State education budget has taken a hit, but this district is in an excellent situation. Most of its budget comes from Ad Valorem, which is property tax. This means, the district isn’t subject to the feast or famine of the SDE’s budget as so many other districts. People are moving to our district and building homes – some big and some small, but every home adds to the tax collected by LPS. We also have the big and beautiful Red Bud Power Plant. Can I get an AMEN? That plant brings in additional monies. It is a God send to this district. It means that the State’s cuts account for less than one percent of our entire budget. If the district rises or falls on one percent of its budget, then the problem isn’t with losing the one percent, it’s how the 99% is spent. This district has a spending problem. A big one. And the buck starts and stops with the Board. It allows, wait – it approves – all expenditures. This means, the added personnel for the Superintendent to do his job, was approved by the Board – well, by 3 out of the 5 board members. We need a Board who knows how to run a business, who understands a spreadsheet, who knows the law, who is willing to step in and demand accountability from the leadership it hired or to replace the leadership. It is not easy. This situation will not be remedied with easy … Easy got us here.
JE: I have stayed involved because this has never been about me. This is about doing what is right. It is about following the law, both fiscally and in regards to the Open Meeting Act (learn that one too). It is about making sure that the teachers and students of this district have what they need. So, yes, I have been available to help where needed. As have been quite a few in this community. That has been one of the best byproducts of this past year. So many more involved in getting these teachers resource. Many with kids in the district, many who graduated from Luther, many who only live in the community. I hope I am known as one who a teacher can come to if they need something. If someone needs books, equipment, even covering fieldtrip fees or something else, I want to be known as someone who has a teacher or a child’s back. And if I cant cover it, I know a bunch of people who can.
JE: I love the phrase of this question … short-sighted. Yes. To demand that someone have a child in LPS to run, negates the experiences of the majority of people in this district. This district is growing too fast and if it’s not already true, it will be soon, most people who live in this district will not have a child in LPS. We have a very talented populace that live within the boundaries of this district. We have people who run or have run major NYSE companies, government agencies, doctors (MD, DO, and PhD), nurses, therapists … people with Masters and Doctorates in things I can barely explain. We have farmers with knowledge I will never know, along with accountants and lawyers … plumbers, electricians, engineers. We have skills that run the world in this district. This notion that a board member must have a child in LPS denies this district of a very rich talent pool. It also makes those who do not have a child in school reticent to become involved either physically or financially. It makes people feel unwanted and unwelcome. My biggest blessing in running for School Board was getting to know the people in this town. They have precious hearts. Generous. Kind. Funny. Welcoming. They want the best for these kids – it’s what those who don’t have kids in this school want – what is best for the students. It’s the thing we can rally around together. We could change this district quickly into one of the best districts in the area, and that includes Oakdale, Edmond, Deer Creek. We have everything needed, dedication and support. We just lack leadership and sound fiscal policy. I pray that this upcoming election elects someone with character and skills to meet the needs of this district. The last election did… and as I have said before, Steve…I am glad its you and not me! Blessings.