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Chester County Press

Early budget work and presentation about Future Ready PA Index tops Oxford School Board agenda

10/24/2017 12:59PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The Oxford School Board meeting on Oct. 17 included a report about the new Future Ready PA Index, some preliminary work on the budget that will be adopted next June, and a brief consent agenda highlighted by personnel items.

Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones, the district's assistant superintendent, made a presentation about the Future Ready PA Index, which will be the new measure for school performance. The Future Ready Index will be utilized beginning in the fall 2018, using data from the 2017-18 school year.

Future Ready PA Index increases the emphasis on student growth measures, and incentivizes a focus on all learners and is less sensitive to demographic variables. It also measures English language acquisition among English Language Learner students. The Future Ready Index will take into account student achievement, student growth, career readiness, advanced coursework, postsecondary transition, attainment of industry credentials, STEM initiatives, targeted growth for English Language students from the 2017-2018 baseline.

The state goal, Billings-Jones said, is to reduce by half the number of non-proficient students by the 2029-2030 school year.

District officials are beginning the work on the budget for the 2018-2019 school year. Brian Cooney, the district's business administrator, told the school board that the state has established a 2.4 percent statewide Act 1 Index for the 2018-2019 school year. The adjusted Act 1 Index for Oxford is 3.3 percent. Cooney said that Jan. 25, 2018 is the deadline for the school board to vote on whether it intends to stay within the Act 1 Index. Exceeding the Act 1 Index would require the district to seek approval of the budget increase via a referendum in the spring Primary Election, which is why a decision must be made in January as to whether the district intends to stay within the Act 1 Index or not.

In another budgetary matter, the school board set the per-pupil allocation at $170, which is the same as the current year. The per-pupil allocation establishes how much money is provided to each school building for supplies like pens and paper.

In his Chester County School Boards Legislative Council report, school board member Robert Tenga talked about how state lawmakers still have not approved a revenue package that would balance expenditures in the state budget that was due on June 30. Tenga also discussed several recent court decisions that could impact Pennsylvania school districts. One such case saw a court ruling that the Upper Merion School District violated the uniformity clause in the Pennsylvania Constitution when it selected only commercial properties for reassessment.

During public comment, John Giles, a resident of East Nottingham Township, asked the school board to consider allowing an arm-wrestling club at the high school. His son would like to start the club, and he has gathered signatures of more than a dozen students who have expressed a similar interest so far.

“I was really hoping that you would consider this club,” he said, explaining that he thinks that there are currently no high schools in Pennsylvania with such a club.

On Nov. 14, the Oxford School Board will hold both its work session and regular meeting. The work session begins at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building.