BOND ELECTION | From a Student’s Eye

Bison Blinds

With the election on Tuesday, April 2, time is winding down to share information about the bond proposal for Luther Public Schools. In this article, Luther High School freshman Neveah Smith appeals to voters to vote yes, similar to LHS graduate Megan Garrett’s remembrance of her school experience. Following Neveah’s brief, read on for more information, including a new graphic showing how our property tax dollars are divided.

By Neveah Smith, Class of 2027

As a student of Luther Public Schools, you voting yes on our bond means a lot to me. I’m a freshman, so none of these changes pertain to me. I will not see any of these changes, but your Kindergartener will. Think about how excited your child would be to wake up and get to go to a brand-new school. If I were an elementary schooler, I would never want to leave school if it was new. Or think about the students who will be attending our middle school. Where will they stay in an emergency, in a basement that was copied and pasted from a horror film? This change affects your property taxes and how your child views school. If you don’t feel a big enough need to put money into their school system, how will they feel the need to attend school? We need these changes. Our middle school needs a bigger cafeteria and a new safe room. Our elementary school can greatly benefit from renovations to the Pre-K building. So voting yes on April 2nd isn’t just yes for more property taxes, it’s voting yes on a brighter future for our schools.

Neveah is the daughter of Josh and Stephanie Smith. An honors student with a great sense of humor, she is preparing to pursue college with a dream of earning a doctorate in veterinary medicine.

The April 2 bond election asks the nearly 4,000 voters in the Luther School District to approve a $28.6 million price tag on school improvements, including two saferooms, a new cafeteria, and other upgrades. If approved, property owners will pay a 4.81% tax increase. As with all tax increases in Oklahoma, passage requires 60% voter approval, which has not been achieved in this school district since 2012. The September 2023 election resulted in a 58% yes vote, falling short of the super majority.

While some opponents are against new taxes, period, others object to the $10 million cost of the bond that is not accounted for in the project paperwork. LPS Superintendent Barry Gunn said, “The higher cost is due to the increased interest rates and construction cost.” Another objection is how the bond is combined with the current bond that constructed the high school. The objection even led to a lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court. The court documents provide an informative read about conduit financing, the state constitution, and using taxpayer-funded bonds for schools. While taxpayers are still being charged a millage for the last bond project, Mr. Gunn explains, “When you see school districts pass bond issues at a no tax increase that means that they are voting to keep the same millage rate for their new projects. They are using the current tax rate to do more capital improvements. We would be keeping that portion plus adding the 4.81%.”

According to Oklahoma County Assessor Larry Stein, schools receive the lion’s share of property taxes at 58% of each dollar assessed. With all revenue sources (in addition to property taxes), LPS operated on a $9.8 million budget (2022-2023).


The Luther school district is large geographically, spanning parts of Oklahoma, Logan, and Lincoln Counties, and is experiencing growth in residential property.  Consequently, due to growth, the Luther Public School’s funding will increase organically each year.  Enrollment numbers suggest many people who are building in the district do not have children or are choosing not to send their children to LPS. Some spin that positively as benefiting the school with new revenue without needing to provide additional services. Another more baffling spin is that those who oppose the bond must oppose safety, and they are told (on social media) to move away. Those are easy (and divisive) words to tap on a keyboard, but they are not a solution. Many excellent educational choices exist for our children, grandchildren, and neighborhood children through home education, private schools, hybrid schools, and traditional public schools. None of the options are perfect yet they are part of the tapestry of our community, where we could all learn from each other.

The election is Tuesday.

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