OASD business administrator set to retire in early 2015
By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Area School District business administrator Charles Lewis, Jr. is set to retire on Jan. 26, 2015. The Oxford School Board formally accepted the retirement notice at its Oct. 21 meeting.
Lewis has led the district's business office since July 21, 1986 and was praised for his efficiency, expertise, and hard work on behalf of the district by superintendent David Woods.
“Chip Lewis has meant a great deal to the Oxford Area School District throughout his 28 years of service,” Woods wrote in an email. “He has efficiently steered the district through both good and bad economic times while always being a champion of public education. His in-depth knowledge of finance, insurance, budgeting, transportation, and facilities is incredible.
“Few school districts in our Commonwealth have benefited as much as Oxford from the career of one individual. The community has also benefited from Chip's passion for service as he has chaired many boards and organizations in Chester County. As treasurer of the Oxford Educational Foundation since it was established 20 years ago he has helped to maintain that organization's commitment to enhancing the educational experience of our students. As president of the Oxford Rotary Club for two years, he has increased membership and expanded the club's charitable activities. I have only known him for two years, but he earned my respect early on and I, for one, will miss his steady leadership and wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
School board president Donna Arrowood worked with Lewis in the district's business office, and said that his skills at the job helped the district balance the budget without cutting educational programs.
“I was fortunate to work for every business administrator in the Oxford Area School District,” Arrowood explained. “Chip Lewis was the only business administrator that made me feel that I was working with him, not for him. His financial knowledge astounds me, and I learned so much while I was a district employee. I'm still learning from him as a board member.
“The Oxford Area School District will be losing a great financial leader when he retires. He has been the person with the foresight needed to keep our district with a fund balance which has enabled us to keep taxes as low as possible without cutting educational programs. That is a difficult job at best when the district is looking at significant increases that are not within our control. He is truly a faithful and loyal employee of this school district and he will be missed. I am confident that the current administration and board will be able to select someone to carry on his vision.”
Lewis will likely have the spotlight in the next few months as budget discussions pick up as the district prepares its preliminary spending plan for the 2015-16 school year. In his Finance and Budget Committee report at the Oct. 21 school board meeting, board member Joseph Tighe said that the committee met on Oct. 13 to discuss the budget. Tighe said that the Act 1 Index, which is the limit that a school district can raise property taxes by without seeking approval from voters via a referendum, is 1.9 percent statewide. Oxford’s Act 1 limit is 2.6 percent based on a formula that provides some districts extra allowances.
While the budget work is still in the early stages, Tighe said that the hope is that the tax increase will be less than the Act 1 limit.
School districts in Pennsylvania must either declare that they are staying within the Act 1 limits for that budget year or give residents notice that they plan to seek voter approval for a tax increase that exceeds the Act 1 limit in the spring Primary election.
In other business at the Oct. 21 meeting, Woods reported that the district has recently received two grants. One, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant Award, will provide $300,000 between 2014 and 2017 to be used primarily for educational enhancements at the Penn’s Grove School. The district will also receive $75,000 in funding that will be used at the Jordan Bank Elementary School to enhance programs, activities and strategies, Woods said.
The Finance and Budget Committee will be meeting again on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.
The school board will meet again on Tuesday, Nov. 11 and Tuesday, Nov. 18. Both meetings will take place at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.