Oxford Area School District seeks public input on delayed start times
By Steven Hoffman
School districts throughout Chester County are considering the advantages and disadvantages of delaying the school start times for students. Citing the physical and mental benefits of later start times, a study group comprised of high school students throughout the county compiled a report and have been making presentations to school boards that recommends later start times, particularly for high school and middle school students.
At the Nov. 15 school board meeting, Oxford Area School District superintendent David Woods provided the school board with an update about the district's efforts to determine if delayed start times make sense for Oxford.
“Many school districts are doing their due diligence looking at delayed start times,” Woods told the board.
The superintendent said that the district's administration will rely on the input from school staff, parents, students, and residents when it comes time to make a decision on whether to move forward with a time change for the start of the school day.
“We really want the community's feedback,” Woods said. “We want to get as much input as possible.”
To help accomplish this, the school district has enlisted a third-party vendor, Thought Exchange, to conduct an online survey of what people think about delayed start times. People can take the survey by following a link on the school district's website at www.oxfordasd.org.
In the coming months, the school district will be collaborating with the PTOs to host town hall meetings about delayed start times.
Woods said that they are hoping to have all the information that they need by April of 2017 so that a decision can be made in a timely fashion.
School board member Rebecca Fetterolf asked whether Oxford's administration was looking to make a decision in time for the 2017-2018 school year.
“I think it would probably be a year out from that,” Woods replied.
In other business at the Nov. 15 meeting, Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones, the district's assistant superintendent, talked about how Oxford recently hosted a group of administrators from school districts through Chester and Delaware counties. Oxford officials talked about the successful partnerships that the school district has with Cecil College and Delaware County Community College. The partnerships give students the opportunity to earn college credits while they are still in high school. Oxford officials also highlighted the STEM programs that they have introduced at Oxford Area High School, Penn's Grove School, and Hopewell Elementary School. Some Oxford students were on hand to demonstrate their recent work as part of the STEM classes.
In his report, Woods congratulated the four high school seniors who recently signed their letters of intent to compete at the collegiate level. Morgan Curl will compete in swimming at the University of Pennsylvania, Michael Weber is heading to Kutztown University to play baseball, Grace Hennessey earned a spot on the Millersville University basketball team, and Sarah Johnson will be attending Stanford and playing for the school's field hockey team.
The Oxford School Board will hold its annual reorganization meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Administration Building.