By Steven Hoffman
During an Oxford School Board meeting that took place two days before Thanksgiving, there were plenty of thanks offered as the board said farewell to three members on Nov. 26. The board recognized the contributions of Christine Peabody, Dominic Pirocchi, and Joe Scheese, all of whom were attending their last meeting as school board members after serving for the last four years.
“It's been four wonderful years,” said Peabody, thanking the board members that she served with during her tenure.
Peabody, Pirocchi, and Scheese were lauded for serving the school district with distinction.
During public comment, Kurt Haegele, himself a former school board member, thanked the trio for their service to the district. He complimented Scheese, who previously served as board president, for his leadership, especially with regard to the district's finances. Property tax increases have been kept to a minimum during the last four years, and there was no tax increase at all in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.
Haegele thanked Peabody for always being an advocate for the students. He said that Pirocchi helped the district with his knowledge of computers and technology, and also thanked him for going above and beyond when it came to the time that he spent on school board duties.
During her farewell comments, Peabody said that she was very proud of the fact that the school board conducted a superintendent search that resulted in the hiring of David Woods.
“He's a very competent, good man,” Peabody said, adding that he has improved the district already during his brief time in the district by hiring good educators for key administrative positions.
“I'm proud of the school district and I'm proud of the school board for doing that,” she said of the new administrators. “Think of the kids first and we will always be better.”
The Oxford School Board will hold its reorganization meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building. The new board members—Joe Starcheski, Lorraine Durnan Bell, and Rich Orpneck—will be sworn in and there will be elections for the board’s leadership positions.
Board president Jason Brady said that the incumbent school board members will serve as a committee-of-the-whole to make nominations for the leadership positions for 2014.
In other business at the Nov. 26 meeting:
In his Technology Committee report, Scheese said that the district’s iPad program that will put a tablet in the hands of every student in the high school is progressing even though there have been some technology issues that have come up as the members of the freshman class have started using the devices.
Scheese said that the expectation is that 98 percent of the technological issues will be resolved before students leave for the Christmas break.
“We’re on schedule for a rollout for grades 10 through 12,” Scheese said, explaining that all the students are expected to be able to use the iPads for their schoolwork by the end of January.
During public comment, school district resident Diana Cauley addressed the school board about an issue that her family has been facing for the last week. She said that her 13-year-old daughter, who attends a private school in Oxford, tried out for the Penn's Grove basketball team after the family was led to believe that she was eligible to play for the Penn's Grove team. District officials quickly discovered, however, that because Cauley attends a private school, she is not eligible to play for a school district team according to rules established by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). By contrast, students who attend other public schools, such as charter schools or cyber charter schools, or students who are home-schooled, are eligible to play for the district's teams.
Cauley said that, as a taxpayer, in the district, she believes that her child should be eligible to play for Oxford and her own school's team.
“You have a 13-year-old girl who is devastated because she can’t play a sport that she loves,” Cauley said. “She's a good player and she has a passion for the sport. I just want her to have the opportunity to do what she loves.”
Cauley said after the school board meeting that the recommendation from Oxford officials was for her to contact her State Representative to discuss the issue.