Oxford School Board adopts a $68.5 million budget for 2017-2018 school year
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford School Board unanimously approved a $68.5 million final budget for the 2017-2018 school year at the meeting on May 16, concluding months of work on the spending plan.
A one-percent tax increase is necessary to balance the budget. The millage rate is increasing from 30.84 mills to 31.1484 mills. The average taxpayer in the district will see a $39 increase in the tax bill as a result of the millage rate hike.
Spending increased by more than $2.8 million over the current fiscal year. That's a 4.38 percent increase in spending overall. The item with the biggest impact on the budget is the district's costs for the state-mandated contribution to the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). These costs are going up by more than $1.1 million. That's an increase of approximately 8 percent.
The school board also authorized allocating $1,079,300 for the Capital Projects Fund Budget for the next school year.
Superintendent David Woods updated the school board about the discussions that have been taking place about delayed start times to the school day. School districts throughout the county have been discussing delayed start times after a student report compiled data about the benefits of later start times.
Woods said that Oxford held a town hall meeting that was well-attended to get input from stakeholders, including parents and students. Additionally, the district undertook an online ThoughtExchange survey that more than 1,000 people in the Oxford community participated in.
The district surveyed participants on several different scenarios—delaying the start of the school day by an hour across the district, switching the start times for the elementary schools and the secondary schools, and other questions. Woods said that there was a very strong preference among respondents to keep the start times as they are currently.
School board president Richard Orpneck, noting that the preference of stakeholders was to maintain the status quo, said, “Based on these results, I don’t think action needs to be taken.”
The school board approved the student participation fees for 2017-2018. The fees are remaining the same: For high school sports, the participation fee is $75. The fee for parking at the high school is $50. The sports participation fee for the Penn's Grove School is $50.
Barbacane, Thornton, & Company, LLP was appointed as the auditor to audit the general purpose financial statements of the Oxford Area School District for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2017.
With the start of a new fiscal year quickly approaching, the agenda included dozens of contract approvals with companies that provide everything from maintenance and repairs on boilers to fire and life safety equipment to water treatment services.
The school board approved a contract renewal with ServiceMaster Services for custodial services at the administration building, Jordan Bank School, Hopewell Elementary, Penn's Grove, and Oxford Area High School beginning July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. This is part of a multi-year contract that the district has with ServiceMaster. The amount of the contract for those services is $442,155.48 for the 2017-2018 school year.
In her report to the school board, Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones, the district’s assistant superintendent, said that the district will soon launch an app that will be available through iTunes.
In the final piece of business, the school board thanked high school senior Maggie Walsh for her service as the student representative to the board. Orpneck presented Walsh with a plaque and flowers on behalf of the school district.
The school board will meet again in June on Tuesday, June 13 and Tuesday, June 20. Both meetings will take place at 7 p.m. at the administration building.