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Chester County Press

Oxford School Board closes out fiscal year by tackling full agenda

07/03/2017 12:23PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The Oxford School Board discussed the pension reform bill that was recently approved by state lawmakers, approved some annual appointments and contracts, and received an update about the district’s summer academies at the last meeting of the fiscal year on June 20.

In his Chester County School Boards Legislative Council report, school board member Robert Tenga updated the board about the pension reform legislation that was approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Public school employees hired after July 1, 2019, will have 90 days after their hire date to choose one of three options that were included in the new pension regulations. Once an option is selected, it can’t be changed. The options include partial or full 401(k)-style plans. Current employees already vested in the pension system could opt into one of the new plans, but there is no requirement for them to do so.

The new pension reform law will not produce immediate relief to school districts that have seen the state-mandated contributions to the pension system increase exponentially in recent years, or to the taxpayers who ultimately pay the bills for public schools.

“Going forward it will help,” Tenga said, “but it won’t do anything for the current pension situation.”

There are more Oxford students than ever benefiting from summer programs and activities. Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones, the district’s assistant superintendent, said that more than 400 students have signed up for summer academies or federal Title 1 programs, while more than 100 students are participating in the extended school year program. Many of the summer offerings are aimed at boosting academic achievement.

Billings-Jones said that 223 students at the elementary school level signed up for the summer reading program that will run from July 10 to Aug. 4.

The district’s summer academies, which include offerings in everything from music to STEM to math to computer science and coding, also have attracted a record number of students. The music academy is the most popular, with 75 students, while the art academy has 45 students.

With the start of the new fiscal year approaching, the school board approved a lengthy consent agenda that included a variety of annual appointments or agreements for services. School board member Joseph Tighe was once again appointed to serve as the board’s treasurer, while district business administrator Brian Cooney will continue to handle the duties of being the secretary for the board. Both appointments are effective July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. The school board approved the memorandum of understanding with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Oxford Borough Police Department for policing services. Also approved was a contract with the Chester County Intermediate Unit for marketplace programs.

The school board welcomed new student representative Alina Snopkowski. In that role, Snopkowski will report about student activities for the 2017-2018 school year. The senior is a member of the National Honor Society and the president of the National English Honor Society.

The Oxford School Board does not have a meeting scheduled in July, so the next meeting will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. in the school district’s Administration Building.