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Chester County Press

Four candidates vying for two at-large seats on Oxford School Board

10/28/2015 08:39AM ● By J. Chambless

By Steven Hoffman
Staff Writer

Oxford School Board president Donna Arrowood is one of four candidates seeking two of the at-large seats on the school board. Arrowood and Becky Fetterolf are the democrats on the ballot, while Robert Tenga and Mark Patterson are the Republican nominees. Oxford is still in the process of phasing in three at-large seats that are contested district-wide, while the other six seats on the school board remain divided among the three geographic regions.

In Oxford’s Region III, which includes East Nottingham Township and Elk Township, Arrowood and Joseph Tighe, both incumbents, are vying for one seat.

The picture is a lot clearer in the other two regions.

Incumbent school director Howard Robinson is the only candidate on the ballot in Region I, which includes Upper Oxford Township, Lower Oxford Township East, and Oxford Borough East.

In Region II, which includes West Nottingham Township, Lower Oxford Township West, and Oxford Borough West, incumbent Gary Olson is the only candidate on the ballot.

The Chester County Press reached out to each candidate in the contested races for information about his or her professional background, qualifications, and priorities if they are elected to the school board on Nov. 3. Here's a look at the responses we received:

Donna (Aylsworth) Arrowood

 Q: How long have you lived in the Oxford Area School District?

A: I am a lifelong resident of the Oxford Area School District.

Q: How long have you served on the Oxford School Board?

A: This is my fourth year serving on the board. I have been president for the last two years.

Q: What accomplishments or improvements has the Oxford Area School District had during your time on the board?

A: We gained a well-qualified Superintendent and a well-qualified Assistant Superintendent to lead our district. We are implementing updated programs and updated policies. We have brought back cursive handwriting for students in third and fourth grades. We have kept our property tax increases to a minimum without cutting programs. We are currently in a good financial position for the increased costs the district will be facing. We have reached an agreement with the Oxford Area Education Association. We also followed through with a suggestion of former board member Kurt Haegele and named the high school auditorium the James S. Herr Auditorium.

Q: Can you tell us about your professional background?

A: I am a graduate of Oxford Area High School and Goldey Beacom. While attending school, I spent several summers working in the high school and administration offices. After I graduated, I worked in the Business Office of the school district for approximately 30 years with a 10-year break in service to stay home with my children.

Q: What other qualifications, professional experiences, or service to the community should voters know about?

A: I have a real working knowledge of this school district. Knowledge gained as a member of the community, a student, a parent, a member of the Home and School Association and especially as an employee. The Oxford Area School District has been a major part of my life.

Q: What would be some of your priorities if you were re-elected to the Oxford School Board?

A: The safety of our students and staff needs to be our top priority. We need to continue to fill any vacancies with well-qualified people. The board will be negotiating contracts or agreements with our support staff and our administrators within the next two years. We also need to continue keeping any real estate tax increase as small as possible without cutting educational programs.

Becky Zell Fetterolf

 Q: How long have you lived in the Oxford Area School District?

A: I have lived in Oxford for over 30 years. I attended Oxford from K-12 and graduated in 1998. I currently live in Elk Township with my husband (who also graduated from Oxford), our three kids, and our “farm” of animals.

Q: How have you been involved with the school district or its schools?

A: I have three kids, and two of them are school age—my oldest is in 4th grade and my middle child is in 2nd grade. I help as much as needed in their classrooms, but I’m also very active in their extracurricular activities. I coach soccer, lacrosse, and junior robotics, and I am a Girl Scout troop leader.

Q: Why are you seeking a seat on the Oxford School Board?

A: Having graduated from OAHS and now having young kids in the district, I want to make sure that decisions are being made with the future of Oxford schools in mind. I am the voice of a mother, a longtime Oxford resident, and a taxpayer. My background in education and my passion for quality education for all students make me an asset to the board.

Q: Can you tell us about your professional background?

A: Since graduating from Penn State in 2002, I’ve worked at the International Literacy Association (formerly the International Reading Association) in Newark, Delaware. When I started, I edited our scholarly journals and books on literacy research and strategies, but my current role is to develop professional development resources for educators, including e-courses, our annual conference program, and special grant-funded projects.

Q: What other qualifications, professional experiences, or service to the community should voters know about?

A: Although we focus specifically on literacy at ILA, I regularly read education-focused publications (like Education Week and NYT’s Education news) to stay current on new policies and trends in education. Not only am I on the planning committee for ILA’s annual conference, I also have the great privilege to attend other education organizations’ conferences.

Q: What would be some of your priorities if you were elected to the Oxford School Board?

A: My top priority is fiscal responsibility without sacrificing the diverse academic and extracurricular opportunities that currently exist. Another priority is to make schools a place where a love of learning is fostered. There is more to an education than just what is learned between the school bells, and there is more to a child (and the child’s teacher) than what is measured on an assessment.  

Joseph E. Tighe

 Q: How long have you lived in the Oxford Area School District?

A: We moved to OASD in September 2003. My wife grew up here and graduated from OASD, and I think it is a wonderful place to live and raise a family.

Q: How long have you served on the Oxford School Board?

A: Nearly four years. I was elected in November 2011.

Q: What accomplishments or improvements has the Oxford Area School District had during your time on the board?

A: Our greatest achievement, in my opinion, has been the fact that we have kept real estate tax increases to their lowest level in years, most years no increase at all, without canceling or cutting back on any programs for our school children. In addition, during my tenure, we have replaced the entire district administrative team, provided iPads for every student in the High School, and changed the school board meetings into efficient, productive, gatherings instead of the angry, drawn out, yelling matches they were when I arrived.

Q: Can you tell us about your professional background?

A: My professional background has been in the financial sector for more than 30 years. I am a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner. My CPA practice is in Wilmington, Del., where I am one of three partners. This is probably why the board keeps electing me to be the treasurer.

Q: What other qualifications, professional experiences, or service to the community should voters know about?

A: My main qualifications are my ability to remain level-headed in the most stressful of situations and my consistent professional treatment of everyone I encounter, regardless of background or education. My parents taught me at an early age to be respectful of everyone you meet, and to help others whenever and wherever you can. I am always fair and impartial, and I will always advocate for equal treatment of everyone. In addition to serving on the school board, I am the treasurer of our local church and my wife is a Sunday school teacher and worship leader.

Q: What would be some of your priorities if you were re-elected to the Oxford School Board?

A: I believe the main priority is to continue to keep real estate taxes at the lowest level possible without hurting or hindering the programs available to our students. We need to balance taking care of our kids and our community members at the same time. Other priorities are to continue to improve our technology, our sports and cultural programs, and always remember the importance of our relationships with the community, the teachers, the administration and, most of all, the students. They are why we are here.  


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