OASD votes to stay within Act 1 Index
● By Steven Hoffman
Brian Cooney, the Oxford Area School District’s business administrator, offered an update to the school board about the status of the preliminary budget for 2016-2017 at the Dec. 15 meeting.
Cooney said that “huge portions of the budget” remain unclear at this time. He pointed out that it’s challenging to attempt to project what subsidies the district will receive from the state for the next school year when the district hasn’t even received its first subsidy payment for the current school year as a result of the ongoing state budget impasse.
Cooney said that there has been conflicting information coming out of Harrisburg about the progress that is being made in the efforts by Gov. Tom Wolf and the State Legislature to finalize a state budget for the current fiscal year.
“It almost feels like one step forward, two steps backward,” Cooney said.
One piece of information that Cooney does have is that the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) rate is increasing slightly to 30.03 percent. Cooney noted that while the rate is increasing by less than one-percent, it will translate to an increase of $165,000 to Oxford’s annual budget.
The district is also anticipating an update on projected health care costs for the next school year. Cooney said that as more information becomes available, Oxford’s own budget picture will become clearer and he will offer updates to the school board.
Even though there is much work to do on the 2016-2017 spending plan, after Cooney's report the Oxford School Board subsequently voted to remain within the Act 1 Index limit of 3.3 percent, which means that if there is a tax increase included in Oxford's final budget for 2016-2017, it must be less than that. The state Act 1 Index establishes the maximum tax increase allowable by a school district in a given year without seeking approval for the tax increase through a referendum.
School board member Joseph Tighe, who serves on the district’s Finance and Budget Committee, said that district officials have done a good job of limiting expenditures so that Oxford can stay within the Act 1 Index despite the various budgetary challenges that the district is facing.
“I want to give kudos to the administration of the district for that,” said Tighe.
Also at the Dec. 15 meeting, the school board approved resolutions honoring two departing school board members, Donna Arrowood and Dr. Jason Brady. Arrowood served as a board member for four years, including two as president.
The resolution stated, in part: “Donna L. Arrowood has given countless hours of her time for board meetings and board-related work which has proven her commitment and dedication to the students of the Oxford Area School District….”
Brady, also a past board president, served on the board for eight years. He was lauded for “his strong moral character and high ethical standards demonstrated in the field of education carrying strong respect among his colleagues…”
School board member Howard Robinson was selected to continue to serve as the school board’s representative on the Chester County Intermediate Unit Board. The term is effective July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2019.
The school board will hold meetings next month on Tuesday, Jan. 12 and Tuesday, Jan. 19. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building.