A new principal, the same superintendent and more budget cuts on the way

Bison Blinds

The Luther School Board Monday night hired a new high school principal and kept Superintendent Sheldon Buxton on the job at its regular board meeting in the high school auditorium.

Three board members voted to hire Mr. Jerry Martin as the new high school principal. Martin, from the Prague School District, was one of six candidates interviewed by a committee from 39 applicants.

Board Member Charles DeFuria asked about the timing and suggested Dr. Buxton serve as part-time principal.

“What about the idea of not hiring a high school principal because of severe financial problems that we’re in,” he said and then added to Dr. Buxton. “And then you can just be the acting high school principal and superintendent, and wear both hats. If you have to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, just do it because we’re in a pickle.”

There wasn’t much more discussion before the board voted, 3-2, to hire Martin. DeFuria and Steve Broudy voted no.

New LPS High School Principal Jerry Martin visits with Supt. Sheldon Buxton at the April 2016 board meeting.
New LPS High School Principal Jerry Martin visits with Supt. Sheldon Buxton at the April 2016 board meeting.

Martin currently serves as Director of Special Services, overseeing transportation and the physical plant, at Prague Public Schools. But until 2015, he was Prague’s middle school principal beginning in 2008.

His previous work experience includes serving as an elementary school principal in Okemah and a junior high football, basketball and baseball coach in Meeker.

He’s a graduate of Eufaula High School. He attended Seminole State College and East Central University. He earned a Master’s of Education from ECU in 2002.

Martin attended the meeting with his wife.

“I’m excited to be here and look forward to the new challenges. This is a nice facility and a beautiful school,” said Martin. He said he has not yet met Interim Principal Shawn Meek who has served this semester as principal following the resignation of former principal Jan Scheffler in December.

Dr. Buxton said he expects, among other things, for Martin to focus on curriculum leadership, and adjusting to new state academic standards.

Asked whether he will concentrate on discipline issues, Martin said he will abide the student handbook. “We’ll enforce the rules and the students will follow them,” he said, but added with a smile, “it’s easier said than done.”

Dr. Buxton's financial report. April 2016.
Dr. Buxton’s financial report. April 2016.

In other news from the meeting:

During public comments, Jane Martin and Jennifer Edmunson spoke. Their comments are on the Luther Register’s youtube channel.

  • In the Superintendent’s report, Dr. Buxton said the Task Force to consider budget cuts for next school year has met and will propose $800,000 in cuts from “Plan A” that involves program cuts and layoffs. He expects a Special Board Meeting as early as next week to discuss the cuts and whether the district will move to a four-day week.
  • Dr. Buxton also said LPS welcomed Hollywood to Luther and accepted a $400 donation to the elementary library from makers of a movie that used part of the school as their set.
  • The board accepted a retirement letter from Mrs. LaVern Veasy, the elementary music teacher who gave 39 years of service to the district; and accepted the resignation letter of Matt Goddard.
  • The board accepted a new Sick Leave Policy that will honor the current contracted arrangement to pay employees for unused leave; but no new hires will have that benefit.

To close the meeting, the board unanimously voted to go into executive session with the school district’s legal counsel to discuss the employment of the superintendent.

Asked what the waiting was like, Dr. Buxton said he learned something from his granddad who raised him, “You can not worry about what you can not control,” he said. “I can only control myself.”

After a 90-minute session, the board returned with a report that it made no motions nor votes during their confidential session. And Dr. Buxton will return to the painful job of imposing a dreaded Reduction in Force, the first one he says he’s ever had to experience in a nearly 40-year career in education.


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