By MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY
For 21st Century Media
LOWER OXFORD - Elk Ridge Elementary School Teacher Kristen Melrath stood up before the Oxford Area School Board meeting April 15 asking for additional support for struggling readers.
“In my building alone, three aides who have worked with our struggling readers have resigned and have not been replaced,” Melrath said. In addition to the decline in the number of aides, Melrath explained that teachers are facing the potential of dealing with larger groups of students. “Special Education teachers were asked to reconsider how many students are in groups. There are four to six in a group now, it was suggested that there should be nine.”
Melrath urged the board to provide support for children who are working hard to learn to read, particularly because of the importance of reading throughout their education. “They are learning to read. By third grade they transition to reading to learn,” she said.
The board did not respond to Melrath’s comments. Teaching positions and aides are items that go into the budget for the next school year. The board approved the preliminary budget for 2014-15 as presented a week earlier.
The general fund budget in the amount of $60,888,690 is a 3.89 percent increase over the present year. “The majority of is due to our contribution to PSERS (retirement fund),” noted Business Manager Charles Lewis. The item is increasing by $962,000. Other large increases are a $330,000 jump in tuition to charter schools and a $356,000 increase to the Intermediate Unit for students going to the Technical College High School.
For the average residential home owner, the property tax increase of .18 mills will translate into a $24 hike in their tax bill. A mill is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.