The Luther School Board Monday night voted to outsource some of its financial functions, although one school board member said padding the administration in the wake of so many classroom cuts hurts students.
“We are making it easier for the superintendent to do his job rather than making him accountable to what we have hired him to do,” said board member Steve Broudy right before he was on the minority end of the vote to hire David Harp from the Shawnee School District as a payroll and encumbrance clerk.
Harp is the longtime school business manager for Shawnee Public Schools who runs a consulting business on the side. Before he introduced himself to the board, he sat through the early part of the meeting where barebones financial numbers were shared and an investigative state audit was referenced.
“Sitting here tonight, I know it will be a challenge. There’s a lot of concern among the people,” said Harp. “We can’t correct this overnight.”
Harp is going to take care of payroll for the district’s employees, work on the district’s purchasing policy, and “pay timely and accurately” the district’s many vendors.
He has a one-year contract for $24,000. Superintendent Sheldon Buxton said the district needs his expertise.
In addition, the local bank vice president, Gary Roy, was hired as the district’s Treasurer for $500 a month. Board member Charles DeFuria said he asked the state auditor whether it was a conflict of interest for Roy to serve in that role for the district since his bank holds the district’s accounts and handles bond money. The board hired Roy but noted that if the auditor found a conflict, they would find another treasurer.
Harp said he will encourage the board to purchase a more expensive version of the district’s accounting system that is web-based and uses “the cloud” for storage and allows an ability to work on the district’s books while away from the building.
Ray Stanfield joined Broudy in voting against Harp’s hiring.
The board also voted to seek up to a $1 million credit line from the First Bank & Trust of Wagoner, OK, to cover non-payable warrants for the 2016-2017 school year. DeFuria asked what the interest rate on repaying the loan would be, but Dr. Buxton did not have that information. He and Broudy voted against the loan, but it passed with Stanfield, Sherri Anderson and Matt Mohr supporting the move to be able to meet payroll and pay bills until the district receives state and ad valorem funding in December.
The board agreed to spend $1,500 with the Oklahoma State School Board Association for a service to digitize the district’s policy handbook for internet access.
The board approved the following teachers for the new school year:
- Loralei Gann – high school English
- Hannah Howard Donwell – high school band/vocal
- Virginia Hulsey – high school special education
- Eric Line – high school geography and world history
- Julie Coontz – high school math
- Mike Maliskas – part time speech pathologist
- May Means – middle school math and science
- and contingency approval for two teachers who are seeking emergency certification
- Dr. Jessica Sigle – high school science
- Rebecca Washam – elementary special education
Five support personnel were rehired:
- Kerri Jones – elementary special education
- Lisa Lemons – elementary special education
- Karissa Sumner – elementary special education
- Amy Vinson – preK
- Brenda Benning – library
Four resignations were accepted for Jessica Shatswell, Natalie Bowman, Alicia Ebers and Ellen Maliskas.
Although enrollment numbers won’t be official until October, Dr. Buxton told the board that a realistic number for the upcoming school year will be about 880, down from 940 last October. He said the lower enrollment number means the loss of about $3,000 per student in state aid.