Oxford School Board set to fill vacancy
By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford School Board is looking to fill the vacancy that was created when school board member David Severino resigned in August. At the Sept. 11 work session, the school board interviewed Dr. Eric Owens, a candidate to fill the vacancy in Region 1 that includes Upper Oxford, Lower Oxford East, and Oxford Borough East.
Brian Cooney, the district's business administrator, asked Owens a series of questions that were compiled by the eight school board members. One question was about why the candidate was interested in serving on the school board.
Owens, an associate professor at West Chester University, talked about his professional background as a licensed professional counselor. He has worked as a counselor in private practice, as well as at the collegiate and secondary school settings. Owens explained that he has presented on issues related to trauma and trauma treatment. He served as a professional school counselor, and has also taught many teachers and administrators about crisis intervention.
Owens said that he has two children in the district, and that the decisions that get made by the school board can impact them, their friends, and classmates.
“I feel like I have something to contribute to this board and this school district,” he said.
Another question was about the skills that Owens possesses that might be assets for the school board.
“I'm hardworking and dedicated,” Owens said. “If I take something on, I try to see it through.”
Another question pertained to Owens’ view on public education. The candidate explained that he is a product of public education. His parents also emphasized the importance of public education. Owens also referenced Thomas Jefferson’s comments about public education, which included saying that an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for survival as a free people.
Owens spoke highly of the Oxford Area School District and its staff.
“Our teachers and administrators are doing a really good job of preparing our kids for what comes next,” Owens said.
The school board accepted Severino’s resignation on Aug. 21 and has 30 days to fill the vacancy. The school board was expected to nominate Owens to fill the vacancy at the Sept. 18 meeting, with a vote to confirm the appointment taking place the same night.
In other business at the meeting, the school board discussed a new memorandum of agreement between the school district and the Oxford Educational Foundation. This agreement gets renewed each year. The Foundation recruits and maintains a roster of volunteers who serve as mentors or tutors to students. The Foundation also provides funding for professional grants that cover needs outside the school district's regular budget. Currently, the Oxford Educational Foundation has recruited more than 100 volunteers, including dozens of tutors, who work with the students in the district.
“The Oxford Educational Foundation is an excellent partner to the school district,” superintendent David Woods said.
Steve Roberts, the president of the Oxford Educational Foundation, said that part of the Oxford Educational Foundation's work, in addition to identifying volunteers in the community, is to ensure that that all the volunteers are properly trained with regard to volunteers.
The board was expected to finalize the agreement at the Sept. 18 meeting.
The school board will meet again on Tuesday, Oct. 9 and Tuesday, Oct. 16. Both meetings will take place at the district's administration building at 7 p.m.