By Marcella Pryre-Ferry
For the Journal Register News Service
LOWER OXFORD – Oxford Area School District Superintendent Dr. Raymond Fischer has announced that he will be retiring by the end of this school year. Fischer has been an educator for 37 years serving 22 of those in Oxford. He was the principal of the Elk Ridge School, then served 11 years as assistant superintendent and five years as superintendent.
“It is a big moment and I do it with mixed emotions,” Fischer said after the meeting. “I spent my whole career working with students and obviously I’m going to engage in that even in my retirement, but not on a day to day basis as I am doing now.”
Fischer hopes to use his retirement to spend more time with his family including a new granddaughter. He also noted that he taught in a doctoral program at Imaculata last year and hopes to do more in that area as well.
A replacement for Fischer should be found before the start of school next fall. Fischer suggests that one of the qualities in a new superintendent should be a willingness to be visible in the schools and the community. “That was always one of my goals, to make sure I had a good pulse of the education in our schools but also to be involved in the community. My attempt was to bring the schools and the community together so that we’re working together for the benefit of our students,” he said. “The other is budget. As expenditures rise, revenues are low and one needs to take the initiative to look for every revenue source, for anonymous donors and grants, to provide for our students to get the best education.”
To replace Fischer, the district will be using the services of the Chester County Intermediate unit to help in the search. “We’re going to take advantage of their services,” board president Joe Scheese said after the meeting, stressing that the process will include the community. “It’s going to be out in the public, there are going to be focus groups, were going to take all of the feedback from students, teachers, parents, tax payers, businesses, people in the community, organizations – we’re going to take all that, combine all their input, and formulate what the community wants in a superintendent and go from there.”
At the same time, the district is also using the Intermediate Unit to help in the search for a new principal for the Oxford Area High School. In September, the board accepted Dr. David Madden’s resignation as principal at the high school, following tumultuous months when Madden was suspended in the face of allegations he had made disparaging remarks about special education students.
Madden supporters rallied and he was reinstated just prior to graduation in June, but Madden opponents raised an outcry and he was removed from all duties involving special education students at the high school. At that point the IU was brought in to provide a superintendent of special education district wide, and a second person to supervise special education at the high school.
Madden and the board reached a settlement in which he has resigned as principal, but will be paid for this school year. The IU has provided the district with an interim principal, with Dr. Scott Farina filling that position since Nov. 9 at a fee of $500 per day while the search for a new principal is going on.
“We’re hoping we’ll have somebody in place in 90 days if we find the right candidate. The IU people are assisting in the interview process,” Scheese said.
Throughout the Madden controversy, Fischer has publicly remained silent. The board’s next meeting will be a reorganization meeting set for Monday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.