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Chester County Press

Oxford School Board discusses how to utilize American Recovery Plan funding

01/26/2022 12:06PM ● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford School Board met on Jan. 18 at the district’s administration building. One item discussed in Superintendent David Woods’ report was the preliminary plan for use of American Recovery Plan ESSER fund grant money. 
The district is expecting roughly $6 million over the next two years. Of that money, 20 percent must be designated to programs that directly address student education time lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  This will include items such as summer school, and educational support programs. 
The rest of the money will be used for other pandemic-related costs such as personal protective equipment, technology, buildings and grounds, services for special needs students and more. These general categories are included in the federal guidelines. Specific items may come later as the item will come up for board approval in February. The grant application for this money must be submitted by March 1.
Calculated on a per-student basis, the total amount is $1,686 per child over the two years of funding.
Under public comment, resident Carol Colangelo spoke against accepting the grant money because of the federal safety plan regulations that go with it.
“I, as a stakeholder don’t want the $6 million,” she said during the public comment period. “This $6 million is as corrupt as you can get.”
The other speaker under public comment was resident Ronnie Lutz, who also opposed health dictates tied to ESSER funding. 
Looking ahead in the budget process, the board voted to limit any tax increase to no more than 4.7 percent, the district’s limit under the state’s Act 1 Index. A tax increase, if any, could be at any level up to that limit. The Oxford School Board, like other Pennsylvania school boards, will be working on the spending plans for the 2022-2023 school year in the coming months. A final budget must be approved by the Oxford School Board by the end of June.
A policy revision was tabled and returned to the policy committee for further discussion at their Feb. 8 meeting,  after it was questioned by board member Jennifer Kehs.  The policy addresses education for homeless students. Kehs asked if this also included students who are illegal immigrants. 
“I think it’s important that we share with the community the fact that this will include illegal immigrants,” Kehs said. She then noted a trend of declining student performance and speculated a relationship.

“I feel like we really need to take a look at our school district so we can find out what we are doing wrong,” she said. “If we are accepting those people it will drive down our test scores.”
Woods explained that the district is not permitted to ask immigration status. The change of language to the policy was recommended by auditors to come into compliance with federal regulations.  Policies under review are available to the public at the administration building and on the district website.