CommunityEducation

BOND FAILS

A hopeful night for supporters of the Luther Bond Proposal turned grim as results rolled in across the nine precincts of the Luther School District. There were 900 total votes, with 517 yes votes, the majority, however, bond elections require a super majority to pass, and voters turned it down by a narrow margin.

UNOFFICIAL FINAL RESULTS. Oklahoma State Election Board

Two precincts, including the largest precinct at the Luther Community Center passed the measure with a 60% passage. However, Arcadia voters sunk the measure with no votes winning 75 to yes votes of 49. The voters couldn’t catch up following those returns.

Results from Arcadia.

The measure was a $25 million proposal to build safe rooms, a new basketball gym and a cafeteria. Opponents said that the measure included too money in for interest and consultant fees instead of actual construction.

Proponents campaigned that the projects were needed to replace outdated infrastructure including a nearly 60 year old gym, and a 40 year old cafeteria. Voters rejected a similar measure earlier this year.

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2 Comments

  1. I think you will find the principal reasons voters turned down the bond proposal is due to bond wording that allows too much flexibility in how the money is spent. Government at virtually all levels, spend revenues based on regional politics and not as represented to voters who approved the measure. It appears that LSD is no exception. Voters are not going to approve large ambiguous bonds in light of past management.
    If the LSD genuinely wants to pass bond issues they are going to have to change their approach. It’s not a question of whether the past projects are justifiably needed. They just don’t understand good business practices and how to solicit project investors. Voters are in favor of good education and safety measures. Gain their confidence that the money raised will be managed professionally and the LSD will stand a better chance at passing the bond issues for justifiable projects.
    LSD needs to start anew with a smaller bond measure that is for a single, specific purpose, It must be legally binding to that purpose and the funds managed by a certified public accounting firm. LSD also needs to hire a registered, professional engineering firm to prepare a construction plan for the specified purpose. Once the plan has been approved, it should be submitted for bid to licensed & bonded companies that have experience and good standing in the industry.

    The following account describes why voters may have voted against the bond proposal. I am not the author and have purposely omitted the authors name,

    According to the “Citizens Petition Audit of Luther ISD” at: https://www.sai.ok.gov/Search%20Reports/database/LutherPublicSchoolDistWebFinal.pdf it is clear Luther ISD has comingled bond funds and spent bond $79,137 of money illegally in the past. They paid $429,514 in fees to bond consultants and lawyers for the April 3, 2012 bond of $13,730,000 without competitive bidding. They plan to use the same bond consultant for their new bond proposal without competitive bidding.

    The ballot proposition for the April 3, 2012 bond election was as follows:

    Shall Independent School District Number 3 of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, incur an indebtedness by issuing its bonds in the sum of Thirteen Million Seven Hundred Thirty Thousand Dollars ($13,730,000) to be issued in series to provide funds for the purpose of constructing, equipping, repairing and remodeling school buildings, acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment and acquiring and improving school sites, and levy and collect an annual tax, in addition to all other taxes, upon all the taxable property in such District sufficient to pay the interest on such bonds as it falls due and also to constitute a sinking fund for the payment of the principal thereof when due, said bonds to bear interest not to exceed the rate of ten (10%) percentum per annum, payable semi-annually and to become due serially within five {5) years from their date?

    The original plan was to construct a new high school with a “heat and serve” cafeteria and a new cafeteria in the middle school. Half way through the projects the School Board changed their mind and decided to forego the construction of the middle school cafeteria and construct a full service cafeteria in the high school instead. They were legally within their rights because the language on the ballot did not specify a middle school project.

    The ballot proposition for the September 9, 2019 election is as follows:

    Shall Independent School District Number 3 of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, incur an indebtedness by issuing its bonds in the sum of Twenty Five Million Seven Hundred Ninety Five Thousand Dollars ($25,795,000) to be issued in one or more series to provide funds for the purpose of constructing, equipping, repairing and remodeling school buildings, acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment and acquiring and improving school sites, and levy and collect an annual tax, in addition to all other taxes, upon all the taxable property in such District sufficient to pay the interest on such bonds as it falls due and also to constitute a sinking fund for the payment of the principal thereof when due, said bonds to bear interest not to exceed the rate of ten (10%) percentum per annum, payable semi-annually and to become due serially within ten (10) years from their date?

    The September 10, 2019 ballot does not list any specific projects. The School Board is not legally obligated to allocate the bond money according to any of the projects they have posted on their website or during their meetings with the community. They are free to change their mind about how the bond money will be spent, as long as it falls in the broad category of “buildings, furniture, fixtures and equipment. For example, they can decide to spend more money on a gym and less money on some other project. They can even spend bond money on items not allowed by law and not be held accountable. The fact that no action was taken to correct the illegal spending outlined in the Citizens Petition Audit proves that point.

    Voters are entitled to know exactly what projects they are voting on, instead of giving the School Board a blank check for $25,795,000. The ballot could have listed each proposed project as a separate proposition.

    Also, the bond transparency document they posted to the School website is misleading (see attached). It gives the impression they only owe on two bonds of $980,000 each. Actually they are indebted to the Oklahoma County Finance Authority to issue 6 more general obligation bonds of $980,000 each to pay off the April 2012 bond.

  2. Praise our Lord in Heaven Jesus Christ for saving us from increased theft through taxation.

    If people want to voluntarily give their paychecks to failing public school system, they are more than welcome to, but they can kiss my ass if they think I’m going to give them anything against my will.

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