Luther School Board President Matt Mohr said he respects the decision of Dr. Sheldon Buxton to resign as superintendent. Mohr commented to The Luther Register on Thursday, hours after Monday night’s meeting agenda posted listing the resignation item.
Dr. Buxton said he will read his letter of resignation Monday night and comment then.
Mohr said Dr. Buxton was not asked to resign officially, however, the board president was not surprised by the decision. Dr. Buxton’s letter said he will stay until June 30, 2017, Mohr said.
“I respect his decision to pursue other opportunities. I respect the service he gave to Luther schools. We are in better condition today with some of the programs Sheldon instituted,” said Mohr.
Mohr said an objective look at the last three years since Dr. Buxton arrived at the district in July 2013, would highlight accomplishments such as:
- curriculum alignment
- building improvements, including the completion of the new high school and Agriculture barn
- Financial controls begun long before the financial issues were being discussed publicly, Mohr said.
Mohr said Dr. Buxton was working on solutions to the district’s challenges before the public was engaged. He said an effective leader “does” and doesn’t advertise it. Mohr filed for re-election to another five-year term on the school board. He was part of the board that hired Dr. Buxton in 2013.
It’s well-publicized the last 18 months or so have been volatile for the administration with a failed bond proposal in October 2015, plus the controversial 2015 board-approved hiring of Dr. Buxton’s wife as the Dean of Students for a $65,000 salary, and then a budget crunch that resulted in layoffs and slashing of programs. Board member Charles DeFuria, called for Buxton to resign during a Special Meeting in March of this year.
“I’ve been voting no since June because I realized that we’ve been spending too much. That’s the problem. You are the problem, you are the problem,” DeFuria said to Dr. Buxton at that March meeting.
Still, Mohr hopes that history will be more kind to Buxton’s tenure here and points to the financial failure of the State Government that has caused many school districts to suffer, along with LPS.
Mohr said he fully realizes the public perception of the administration has suffered because Dr. Buxton and the board did not communicate their successes better. “We caught a lot of heat,” he said. “Not everything he does turns out bad, but the public perception has steamrolled.”
Dr. Buxton has spent his career in education – both in secondary education and higher education. He was Dean of the College of Education at Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, and was an Assistant Dean and Professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. He also had superintendent experience earlier in his career, with a stint in Purdy, MO. He also worked in Arkansas and Texas.
A March 2016 Oklahoma Watch report on superintendent’s salaries, lists Dr. Buxton’s total compensation package at $96,657 which is in the range of other salaries of superintendents in Oklahoma at roughly the same enrollment number of 900 students. Some superintendents were paid a little more and some a little less.
Monday’s public meeting will be broadcast on Periscope, (user name Luther Register) at 6:30 pm. The resignation item is at the end of the long agenda and after an executive session for faculty review, so it’s likely to be a late meeting. Click here for the full meeting agenda.
As the school board moves ahead to find a new superintendent, Mohr hopes for the best.
“I hope for calm and pray for it regardless … that we proceed professionally and not personally for the board and the public as a whole.”