Oxford School Board approves new pact with teachers
By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford School Board approved a new teachers’ contract on May 19, culminating more than 15 months of arduous negotiations. The deal is retroactive to the date when the last teachers' contract expired, July 1, 2014, and extends through June 30, 2018.
At the conclusion of the meeting where the new contract was approved, school board president Donna Arrowood summed up her feelings about the successful conclusion to the negotiations with one word—relief.
“We knew that we would get there through teamwork,” said Dr. Pamela Brown, the president of the Oxford Area Education Association, the union that represents the district's 270 teachers.
The new agreement comes less than three weeks after the school board and the Oxford Area Education Association received and accepted the Fact Finder’s Report that was prepared by Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board fact finder William W. Lowe. The Fact Finder's Report was made necessary after negotiations failed to produce an agreement.
Details about the new contract were not immediately available. The Chester County Press has filed a Right-To-Know request with the district to obtain details about the new pact.
Also at the May 19 meeting, the school board approved a proposed final budget of $63.3 million for the 2015-2016 school year. The spending plan, as proposed, would include a one-percent tax increase. The millage rate would increase by .3023 mills, from 30.2324 mills to 30.5347 mills. That equates to a $39 increase for the homeowner of a property with the average residential assessment of $130,318.
School board member Joseph Tighe presented some data that showed that in the last few years, Oxford’s tax increases are much smaller than all but one or two schools in Chester County. Twice in the last five years, there has been no tax increase.
“The thing that amazes me,” said Tighe, “is that our administration is able to do so much…with the minor increases that we’ve had.”
The proposed final budget is now available for the community to review and comment on. The school board will adopt a final budget in June.
The board approved participation fees of $75at the high school and $50 at the middle school. These are the same fees as the current year. The parking fee for students at the high school will be $50, which is also the same as the current year.
William Vogt, the principal of the Nottingham Elementary School, offered a report about the effort to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Kids Walk for a Cure. Students and staff from the Nottingham School and Hopewell Elementary School both took part in the event this year, raising over $10,000 in just the one day. That brings the three-year total that Oxford schools have raised to more than $37,000.
The school board has meetings scheduled next month for June 9 and June 16. Both meetings will take place at 7 p.m. in the district's administration building.