School boards across Chester County and the state are scrambling to appoint tax study commissions, a result of recent taxpayer-relief legislation signed by Gov. Edward Rendell.

As mandated by Act 1 of Special Session 2005-2006, passed June 27, school boards must put together commissions consisting of residents or taxpayers of the school district who reflect the socioeconomic, age and occupational diversity of each school district.

In addition, the commissions may be made up of five, seven or nine members, depending on school boards' discretion

The deadline to organize the commission is Sept. 14, and as such, many local districts are now beginning to advertise for volunteers.

The West Chester Area School District is already taking the necessary steps forward. The school board is now soliciting applications from residents interested in serving on a local Tax Study Commission.

People interested should send a letter postmarked on or before Aug. 18 to the board secretary. For more information, visit www.wcasd.net, or visit the Spellman Administration Building on Paoli Pike.

"People on the commission will end up feeling that they made a contribution to public services. You put your time in and the work. That's the reward," Roger Vaughn, president of the school board, said in a phone interview last week.

He added that it is too hard to tell the effect of the legislation.

"It's too hard to tell if it will be a benefit. We just have to follow the legislation and see where it goes," he said. "The ultimate effect of the constituents in the school district remains to be seen."

Octorara Area School District Business Manager John Lee said the board and administration are on top of the situation.

"We've advertised and spread it through word of mouth and have received about five letters, so far," Lee said. "We've also been getting phone calls."

Mike Azzara, chief operating officer for the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, said the early stages of choosing a commission were also commencing.

"We are really in the infancy of it," Azzara said. "At the Aug. 28 board meeting we'll be adopting procedures the board wants the commission to work by. On Sept. 11, during the finance committee meeting, we will be doing interviews and there will be a special meeting immediately afterwards to appoint the committee."

But while many districts are getting started, some have yet to begin.

According to Avon Grove School District Business Manager James Ascuitto, the board traditionally does not meet in July, with discussions scheduled for its Aug. 10 meeting.

"The information is out there for (the board), right now there are too many options," Ascuitto said of the makeup of the commission. "How we attempt to identify and/or recruit people is a pretty involved process. It's a lot to be dumped on a school district in the middle of the summer."

Still, some districts are beginning to advertise, including Great Valley, Oxford Area and Downingtown Area school districts.

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