By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

The Oxford School Board finalized the 2014-2015 budget on May 20, approving a $60,888,690 spending plan.

That’s approximately $700,000 less than the proposed budget that the board approved. In the last few months, the district saw savings of about $435,144 from insurance premiums that came in less than expected. Also, the district saved an estimated $386,883 on debt service payments by refinancing bonds.

Overall, the district’s spending is increasing by $2.2 million, which is a 3.89 percent hike over the current year.

In order to balance the budget, the tax rate will increase .61 mills, from 30.0502 to 30.2324. For the average residential assessment in the district, which is $130,378, the tax bill will increase by $24 to $3,942.

While the district has finalized its budget, there is still some uncertainty about the spending plan because the state has not approved its budget. This typically takes place closer to the end of the fiscal year on June 30. In his Chester County School Boards Legislative Council report, school board member Richard Orpneck advised his colleagues that the state’s revenues are lower than projected, so some of the block-grant funding that schools had been anticipating might not materialize.

Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones, who joined the district in 2013 as the assistant to the superintendent, has agreed to a contract extension that will run from July 1, 2014 through July 30, 2018. She will now serve as the district’s assistant superintendent.

The school board also approved participation fees for next year. The fees will remain the same as the current year: $75 for high school sports, $50 for Penn’s Grove sports, and $50 for parking at the high school.

The school board authorized nearly $1 million in capital projects, most of which will be undertaken over the summer. One of the larger projects is the replacement of the ceiling at the Nottingham School.

William Vogt, the principal of the Nottingham School informed the community about the school's participation, for the second year in a row, with the Walk to Cure Diabetes event. This year's Walk to Cure Diabetes takes place on June 2, with proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

In addition to the walk, there will three assemblies on May 5 to educate the students about type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well teaching them about how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Vogt said that Nottingham School students and staff were very successful with last year's fundraising efforts, ranking first in the region by raising approximately $14,500.

There are six students in the school with juvenile diabetes, and Vogt said that this is a good learning opportunity for the students, who learn not just about diabetes, but about working for a cause and giving back to the community.

Julia Farber, a longtime music teacher in the district, took a few moments to remember and pay tribute to Elk Ridge first-grade teacher Lynn Kochansky. 

“Our hearts were broken,” Farber said of the Feb. 14 passing, “and Valentine’s Day will never be the same for us.”

Farber said that Kochansky was always gentle and passionate toward both students and her colleagues.

In June, the school board has meetings scheduled for Tuesday, June 10 and Tuesday, June 17.