Oxford School Board supports a resolution calling for a new education funding formula in Pa.
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford School Board approved a resolution calling for Pennsylvania to develop a new funding formula for basic education at its meeting on March 17, joining a growing list of school boards seeking a long-term solution to school funding issues that affect the state’s 1.8 million public school students in ways that are large and small.
Superintendent David Woods presented the school board with a draft of a resolution for the school board to consider, noting that there is a commission currently working on developing a funding formula that would reduce some of the inequalities between the school districts in a very diverse state.
“I believe that we can all agree that we need a state formula for education that is fair and consistent,” Woods said.
The resolution approved by the Oxford School Board notes that the state’s contribution to funding public education as a percentage of basic instructional expenses has declined from more than 50 percent during the mid-1970s to less than 35 percent now. Other states contribute, on average, about 44 percent of the total public education costs. Pennsylvania ranks 47th out of 50 states in the percentage of state subsidies allocated to support elementary and secondary education, and the state’s reliance on local taxes to pay for education ranks eighth out of the 50 states.
The resolution calls for Pennsylvania to develop a school funding formula that is “equitable, adequate, comprehensive, and consistent.”
“…(T)he Oxford Area School District urges the General Assembly to reinvent its interest in the support of public schools by taking legislative action to establish a formula that is predictable and addresses adequacy and equity for all school districts,” the resolution read.
The school board unanimously approved the resolution, which calls for parents, students, and district taxpayers to contact the Pennsylvania General Assembly to convey the importance of establishing a fair and equitable public school funding formula. A copy of the resolution will also be forwarded to state lawmakers.
Oxford Area High School senior Alex Coleman received a standing ovation from the large crowd in attendance when principal Christopher Dormer announced that he is a finalist in this year’s National Merit Scholarship competition. To qualify as a National Merit Scholarship finalist, a student not only scored high on the SAT test, but also maintained consistently high grades in high school coursework.
Coleman is among just 15,000 students nationwide who have made it this far in the National Merit Scholarship Program competition. He is now eligible to be considered for approximately 7,600 National Merit scholarships that will be awarded between now and June.
School board member Howard Robinson, who represents Oxford on the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) Board, updated his colleagues about the proposed CCIU budget for the 2015-2016 school year.
Robinson said that the CCIU officials do not anticipate an increase in the core budget that school districts contribute to. This is the smallest piece of the overall CCIU budget for school districts. The CCIU is proposing 1.9 percent increases for occupational and educational tuition rates and the marketplace programs that students participate in.
Robinson said that a 1.9 percent increase in these services would impact Oxford’s budget. CCIU officials will soon be making a presentation about the proposed budget to the Oxford School Board.
The graduation date for Oxford Area High School has now been established for Friday, June 5.
The school board will meet again on Tuesday, April 14 and Tuesday, April 21. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Hopewell Elementary School.