The Luther School Board evaluates its superintendent at its January monthly meeting. The Tuesday night meeting was the first review for Supt. Barry Gunn who took control of the district toward the end of the last school year after the resignation and then death of Dr. Sheldon Buxton. The meeting, behind closed doors in executive session, took two hours.
Board member CJ Cavin, in a comment after the meeting, said the length of the session was not indicative of the content, noting it was very positive. Gunn has a two-year contract so his employment status was not in question as part of the annual evaluation.
The superintendent evaluation session went long last year, and the year before. Both years it was more contentious than Tuesday night. Only a handful of teachers and parents attended last night’s meeting. Two years ago, the meeting was held in the auditorium with a full house of faculty, staff and parents concerned about the financial issues of the district.
Board President Steve Broudy said the group cast a vision for the future of the district, and that took some time (behind closed doors). He noted that it is a fairly new board, with two members participating in their first such evaluation. Cavin was appointed to the school board last spring and drew no challengers for a full term on the board. Tony Rumpl was elected last February in an upset win that unseated the former board president. Ray Stanfield participated in the first several minutes of the executive session before departing to watch the home basketball game.
Asked whether another bond issue proposal is in the works for the public to vote on, Broudy said it’s too early to tell, but he would like to see if the district can work to pay for its needs without continued bond indebtedness that comes with higher taxes. He said the budget reflects success in restoring the district’s “carry over” funds to be able to address capital needs in the future, along with ongoing transportation obligations for a district that is largely rural with buses that travel on many rough roads.
Before the executive session, the board conducted regular business including hearing a Treasurer’s Report from Gary Roy that affirmed the school district is on stable financial footing, though continuing to operate on a tight budget. Property tax payments from Oklahoma and Logan counties were collected as well as other income giving the district “enough money to pay the bills,” said Roy.
The school’s finances are stable enough that a hit from the Oklahoma State Department of Education in its “mid-term adjustment” didn’t even hurt regular operations. The state cut at the middle of the academic year was about $49,000, not too devastating for a $5.5 million total budget. Mr. Gunn commented that they were not concerned much about the loss though noting “they were going to spend it if they had it.” He said the reduction is offset by an increase in the number of students. He noted that the school funding involves very complicated formulas that he is still learning.
The board also acknowledged the band who traveled to Memphis over the Christmas break and “won big” at the Fiesta Bowl band competition. Mr. Gunn thanked Central Electric Cooperative’s Community Foundation for the generous grant that allowed the band to travel on a charter bus.