OASD close to submitting comprehensive plan to Pa. Dept. of Education
By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Area School District assistant superintendent Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones led a presentation to the school board about progress on an updated comprehensive plan at the meeting on Oct. 14.
Billings-Jones said that the comprehensive plan will be available to the public for comment for four weeks before the school board votes at a meeting in November to send the plan to the state's Department of Education. The plan is for years 2014-2020.
Billings-Jones was joined in making the presentation by Dr. Nicole Addis, the principal of the Hopewell Elementary School, and William Vogt, the principal of the Nottingham Elementary School.
Addis talked about the professional development component of the plan. She said that the district has in place a two-year induction program for new teachers that pairs each new teacher with a mentor.
Teachers also take part in professional development activities that increase their skills based on effective research. They are trained how to utilize data to inform decision-making, how to work within the district's standards-aligned system, and how to include differentiated instruction in the classroom. Addis said that special attention is given about how to offer interventions for struggling students or gifted students. In-service programs are arranged by the district to enhance the educator's content knowledge in his or her area of certification or assignment. The professional development opportunities are then evaluated to measure the impact they have had on teaching practices and student learning, Addis said.
Vogt talked about the safe and supportive schools component of the comprehensive plan. Vogt explained that there are school-wide positive behavior programs that are in place to offer children encouragement.
There is also an outreach effort to the community to promote the educational opportunities in the district.
“We’re trying to engage our parents and community members about the great things that we are doing here in Oxford,” Vogt said.
Regarding school safety, Vogt noted that the district has a code of conduct for students, with counseling services and student assistance programs in place for those who need it. The school district also has memos of understanding with local law enforcement agencies.
In other business at the Oct. 14 meeting, there was a discussion about the Oxford Area School District entering into an agreement with 3M Cogent that will allow the district to become a location where school district employees or volunteers could secure the necessary clearances to be in the schools.
Jack Mizrahi, Oxford's director of human resources, explained that the district reached out to 3M Cogent to see if Oxford could become a site because there are no Cogent fingerprinting locations in the southern part of the county.
Mizrahi said that anyone seeking to obtain the required clearances must travel to either Lancaster County or the fingerprinting site at the Chester County Intermediate Unit. It would be much more convenient, he said, if potential employees or volunteers could simply obtain the clearances at Oxford, making it easier for the district to hire staff and to have volunteers work in the schools. Teachers and volunteers with other local districts might also utilize the service, as could people who live in nearby Delaware or Maryland but need to obtain clearances to work in Pennsylvania schools.
It won't cost the district anything to provide the service. The district's human resources department would handle the duties involved with administering the fingerprinting service, most likely between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The district will receive $3 for each person who uses the service.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.