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Chester County Press

Oxford School Board gives superintendent high marks for first year on job

09/24/2014 04:59PM ● By Lev

By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

The Oxford School Board recently revealed the results of its evaluation of Superintendent David Woods for the 2013-2014 school year—his first with the district.

The school board, in accordance with provisions of the Pennsylvania School Code and Act 82 of 2012, rated Woods as “distinguished,” “proficient,” “needs improvement,” or “failing” in a variety of areas, including student growth and achievement; organizational leadership; communication and community relations; human resources management; district operations and financial management; and professionalism.

Woods was rated as “distinguished” for professionalism and “proficient/distinguished” for organizational leadership and communication and community relations. In the areas of student growth and achievement, human resources management, and district operations and financial management, Woods earned a rating of “proficient.”

Overall, Woods' high marks are indicative of a good first year in the district, according to school board president Donna Arrowood.

“The ratings of 'proficient' and 'distinguished' for Mr. Woods' first-year evaluation are certainly a reflection of the board's opinions,” she explained by email last week. “Mr. Woods has helped open better communications between staff and board members. He has been able to build an administrative team that will help our students succeed. I believe the board, with the help of the Chester County Intermediate Unit, has chosen the right person to be the Oxford Area School District's superintendent. I am pleased with his efforts to give us a fresh start, and I am confident those efforts will show how much he believes in our school district.”

The board also graded the superintendent on a series of annual goals.

For continuity, consistency, and communication from K-12, the evaluation noted that the district has a plan to make sure that programming is as unified as necessary, the staff has a working knowledge of district information, and the handbooks are as unified as necessary for each grade level. Woods earned a grade of “proficient” for this area as a result.

The superintendent scored a rating of “distinguished” for programming and curriculum. The objective in this category was to establish an acceptable curriculum cycle and standardize programming with targeted professional development and K-12 curriculum teams. Additionally, the superintendent was to oversee the one-to-one technology program with added infrastructure and equipment to support the technology.

In the area of community outreach and involvement—the objective was for the superintendent to join civic organizations in the district and partner with local and state law enforcement, and to integrate appropriate organizations into the school culture—Woods received a rating of “proficient.”

For the area of staffing, where the goal was for the superintendent to balance staffing and place staff in roles that benefit the district programming, Woods received a rating of “distinguished” from the school board.

In other school district news, the school board worked through a full agenda on Sept. 16. The board approved a collective bargaining agreement with the service and support staff, pending approval by the district’s solicitor. The agreement between the district and the Teamsters Local Union No. 384, representing the Oxford Area School District service and support staff, is retroactive to July 1, 2013 and extends to June 30, 2016.

“The financial situation of school districts and the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act played a major role in negotiating this contract,” said Arrowood. “I believe the agreed-upon contract is financially responsible and provides our support staff with a fair collective bargaining agreement.”

Assistant superintendent Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones made a report to the school board about school performance and programs. She presented the board with a series of charts and graphs that showed standardized test results in reading and math for each grade for the last five years.

She also talked about some of the steps that the district is taking to improve school performance. For example, all schools now have data teams that will help district officials make decisions about the curriculum. New teachers learn about the district’s programs and practices through an expanded induction program. Teachers also receive information about effective classroom management, the best instructional practices for differentiating education, and using differentiated education based on the level of learning.

The district has introduced several initiatives to boost students' reading skills. A K-6 Oxford Reading Club has been established, and a guest reader is scheduled to visit schools in October to talk to students about the importance of reading. Family reading nights are being scheduled quarterly, and the district has Title I and Title III programming to help students throughout the school year.

Billings-Jones said that district officials are working on preparing the next comprehensive plan, for the years 2014 to 2020, with the next meeting taking place on Sept. 30.

In other business at the Sept. 16 meeting, the district got some good news from the state: more funding than expected is coming Oxford’s way in the form of a Ready to Learn Grant. The district is receiving $436,563 instead of $186,084 that had been budgeted. Most of the funding will be used for classroom materials and supplies, but the district is also adding a grade-three teacher.

As the budgeting process for the next school year gets underway in earnest, the board set the per-pupil allocation for 2015-2016 at $170. This is the amount of money that the district allocates to each building for supplies to serve students.

The school board has meetings planned for Tuesday, Oct. 14 and Tuesday, Oct. 21.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected]