• September 2018 School Board Wrap

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    The meeting began with the appointment and swearing-in of Dr. Eric W. Owens to the Board of School Directors to fill the Region 1 seat vacated by David Severino, who resigned. Dr. Owens's term will expire in 2019.

    A Harrisburg native, Dr. Owens has been a professor and chairman of the Counselor Education department at West Chester University since 2001. He previously spent four-and-a-half years as a school counselor in the Pittsburgh area.

    Dr. Owens is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and earned his master's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. from Duquesne University. He and his wife Shannon live in Oxford Borough with their children, Ryan, a seventh grader at Penn's Grove School, and Katie, a kindergartner at Jordan Bank Elementary School.

    Dr. Owens

    Dr. Eric W. Owens is sworn in as a member of the Board of School Directors by District Judge Scott A. Massey.

    Superintendent David Woods began his report by asking Assistant Superintendent Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones to update the board on curriculum-related issues. She began by reporting that district enrollment in grades K-12 for the new school year totals 3,763, with 222 kindergartners making up the Class of 2031.

    Dr. Billings-Jones reported on the district's Act 80 professional development activities held on September 10 and 11. Topics included school safety, curriculum, resources, and instruction. A session on school safety for all district staff was presented by Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.

    "This was a very sobering presentation and I know that it was difficult for some to think that that's where we are now in education," said Dr. Billings-Jones. "We are making sure we're protecting our students and are aware of what can happen in any school district."

    Dr. Billings-Jones added that secondary level teachers received training in Mental Health First Aid from COAD Executive Director Jacquelyn Taylor, who noted that Oxford is the only district in Chester County to have all secondary teachers trained in this area. "This is a safety matter to make sure we can identify students who are having difficulties and get them the appropriate treatment," she told the board.

    Dr. Billings-Jones announced that the district will participate in the First Friday event in Downtown Oxford on October 5. District administrators and teachers and staff members from Jordan Bank Elementary School will be on hard with information about the new school year and children's activities, as well as free water ice for all attendees.

    Dr. Billings-Jones also updated the board on the district's School-wide Title Programming. At a meeting on August 28, the principals of the district's four federal Title schools (Jordan Bank, Elk Ridge, Nottingham and Hopewell elementary schools) presented action plans that now address all students in their buildings.

    Dr. Billings-Jones explained that the Title program previously targeted the district's neediest children. "The move of the district to a School-wide plan permits us to serve all the students in that particular school," she said. "We are able to do that based on the fact that over 40 percent of students in these schools qualify for free or reduced lunches. Now every child can benefit from the Title services in their school."

    Dr. Billings-Jones said the district is required to review this plan annually and have information presented at the school level. She then asked principals from each of the four schools to speak about their action plans, each of which was developed by a team of teachers, staff, and community members and will be incorporated into the district's Comprehensive Plan which is scheduled to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in November.

    Dr. Billings-Jones said a stakeholders meeting for review of the Comprehensive Plan will be held on Thursday, October 4 at 6 p.m. in the Administration Building. All community members are welcome and encouraged to attend.

    Dr. Billings-Jones also reminded the community that the district maintains an anonymous tip line that community members can call with concerns about potentially unsafe school situations. The number to call is 610-463-0859.

    The board approved the following retirements:

    • Margaret McGinnis, Elk Ridge Elementary School Librarian, effective October 8.
    • Oma Barker, Food Service, Oxford Area High School, effective January 2, 2019.

    The board approved the following resignations:

    • Andrew Kirby, District School Psychologist.
    • Philip Coates, District Maintenance.

    The board approved the Board Goals for the 2018-2019 school year. At the September 11 work session, Board of School Directors President Joseph Tighe outlined the following goals:

    • Finalize negotiations and ratify a new PSEA teachers' union contract. The previous contract expired on June 30, 2018.
    • Keep tax increases below the Act 1 index.
    • Stay abreast of budget information and updates, specifically through attendance at Budget and Finance Committee meetings.
    • Monitor expense reduction efforts without hindering student progress or school programs.
    • Advertise committee meetings two weeks in advance when possible.
    • Each board member visits at least two schools per year.
    • Monitor security programs and provide consistent upgrades where needed.
    • Maintain a safe school and work place for students and staff.
    • Remain informed about national school safety issues and current events.
    • Board members will attempt to resolve community concerns and issues only after the proper procedure and personnel avenues have been exhausted.
    • Board members will attempt to complete six hours of training or education through the Pennsylvania School Boards Association or other online courses.
    • Board members will attempt to attend sports and community activities as often as possible.

    The board heard the first readings of revisions to Policy #3310 – Federal Programs Procurement, Policy #5620 – District Wide Wellness and Policy #7400 –Title I Parent Involvement.

     Upcoming Meetings

    • Tuesday, October 9 - Athletics & Student Activities Committee, 6:30 p.m., Administration Building
    • Tuesday, October 9 - Facilities & Safety Committee, 6:45 p.m., Administration Building
    • Tuesday, October 9 - Work Session, 7 p.m., Administration Building
    • Tuesday, October 16 - Policy Committee, 6 p.m., Administration Building
    • Tuesday, October 16 - Technology Committee, 6:30 p.m., Administration Building
    • Tuesday, October 16 - Budget & Finance Committee, 6:30 p.m., Administration Building
    • Tuesday, October 16 - Regular Meeting, 7 p.m., Administration Building

    Send comments and suggestions about the School Board Wrap to asalatto@oxfordasd.org

    “The most important thing about education is appetite.”  ― Winston Churchill

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