Luther – The Oklahoma State Election Board on Wednesday declared an election emergency today for local elections being held in 74 counties on April 7, 2020.
The election emergency declaration will require County Election Boards to accept resolutions adopted by the governing bodies of school districts, municipalities, technology districts and counties to move their April 7 elections to another date. Regular and statutory elections could be rescheduled on June 30, the next available election date and the date of the State Primary Election. Special elections could be rescheduled for any election date allowed by law.
“We are in uncharted waters here, so I am hopeful we have found a sensible solution that is consistent with the spirit of the law and avoids bureaucratic overreach by state election officials,” said Paul Ziriax, Election Board Secretary. “As Oklahoma’s chief election official, I strongly urge school districts, municipalities, technology districts and counties with April 7 elections to take immediate action to reschedule and help efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve.”
Luther Public Schools Superintendent Barry Gunn told The Luther Register that he is in contact with county election officials to reschedule the April 7 school board election, but a new election date has not been set. If local school boards attach their local elections to the scheduled primaries for county, state and federal elections on June 30, school districts would not have to pay for precinct workers. LPS received a bill for $6,000 from the Oklahoma County Election Board for the February board election that Kevin Boydston won over his two challengers.
This April election is for the school board seat currently held by Brandon Rogers who is running to fulfill an unexpired term. His challenger is Gerald McCauley who has told The Luther Register he was not planning to actively campaign for the position.
The following is information shared by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association regarding the election:
Q: Will the April 7, 2020, school board election still be held? (3/18)
No. If your school district has a school board race scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, 2020, the Secretary of the state Election Board is authorizing the rescheduling of these elections to Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Your district must reschedule your April 7 election because the state Election Board has indicated it is unlikely to have enough poll workers to stage a valid election.
To reschedule school board candidate elections, the board of education must:
- Adopt a modified resolution utilizing the document that called the Tuesday, April 7 election.
- Submit the modified resolution to your county election board secretary by Monday, March 30, 2020.
Also, since federal, state, and county primaries will occur, the state Election Board and the county pay all costs of Precinct Official compensation. All districts will pay for on June 30 elections is ballots and any other costs incurred specifically by each district. They also will receive a post-election statement of their costs after the June election, just as they do for all elections.
A rescheduled election involving a school board race shall remain exactly the same as candidates appeared on the ballot for the April 7, 2020, election.
Luther Special School Board Meeting
Meanwhile, the Luther School Board has called a Special Meeting for Monday, March 23, 2020, at Noon. The election is not on the agenda. The one item regards funding support staff during the school closure through Monday, April 6, 2020.
Discuss and take action to grant all support employees ten days of paid emergency leave due to the State Board of Education’s closure of all schools as a result of the national pandemic of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.
Earlier this week the State School Board voted to close schools until April 6. OSSBA also addresses some questions regarding pay for non-certified teachers who might not be paid.
Q: Support employees are concerned about their pay. What assurance can my district offer?
Support employees across the state have expressed worry online about the possibility of lost pay. Please reassure them that OSSBA is working with legislative leaders to try to provide salary and wage protection for them. Until then, there are ways districts can help shield them. School districts may require essential employees – such as custodians, food service workers and business staff – to report to work during the school closure. Also, if your district’s payroll for 10-month employees is annualized, districts can continue to pay support employees during a short-term closure for the compensation they have already accrued but have not yet received. Other possible options are:
- For districts that negotiate with a support employee bargaining unit, your district can negotiate a one-time Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) providing additional leave (e.g, sick, emergency or special business) specifically for the COVID-19 school closures. The MOU can specify a defined time period for the availability of this leave. Although an MOU requires board approval it may be applied retroactively, if necessary.
- If your district does not negotiate with a support employee union, you may call a special board meeting and propose a revised leave policy that provides additional leave (e.g., sick, emergency or personal business) for support employees, specifically for the COVID-19 school closures. Your district may designate a specific time period for the availability of this leave. Although a policy change requires board approval, it may be applied retroactively, if necessary.
Regarding feeding students of Luther Elementary, the school district shared a survey on social media and to parents asking whether they would “participate in a school offered food service program during the school closure?
LPS provided meals will be required to be picked up at the elementary cafeteria at no charge. LPS will provide breakfast and lunch meal preparation, the survey said.
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