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Aldermen want to talk bond with OSD

While the Oxford Board of Aldermen has no say in the Oxford School District’s budget, the board must still approve the district’s budget each year.

On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved the district’s $52 million budget, presented by Superintendent Brian Harvey.

About $21 million comes from local ad valorem taxes. The budget had no increase in the district’s millage rate.

“The rest comes from (Mississippi Assessment Program through the Mississippi Department of Education), state and federal funds,” Harvey said. “How fortunate are we to live in a community that supports its schools, all of them.”

Harvey said the district will see record enrollment this year with approximately 4,469 students expected to start school next week.

“Right now we have 3,250 students approved, 830 pending approval and another 389 who 

with approximately 4,469 students expected to start school next week.

“Right now we have 3,250 students approved, 830 pending approval and another 389 who applied but we haven’t heard back from them but we expect to,” Harvey said. “Our enrollment in expected to 200 more than last year. Every classroom at the high school is full. This will be the first year we have 1,200 students at the high school.”

However, where the OSD is really feeling its growing pains is the lower elementary grades. The Oxford School Board surveyed 300 people in a telephone survey recently to learn if the community would support a $23 million bond referendum. About 62 percent of those polled said they would either somewhat or strongly support the bond. The projected cost to homeowners would be a $20 tax increase on a home valued at $100,000.

Alderman Janice Antonow told Harvey that while she’s heard about the bond referendum from various sources, the board hasn’t discussed anything with the school board itself.

“I’d like for our board and yours to meet and talk about the bond referendum,” Antonow said.

Mayor Pat Patterson said he felt the two boards should discuss it in an open meeting before the Aug. 23 Board of Aldermen meeting.

“I just think it’s good business,” Patterson said.

Patterson said he’s had some questions in regards to the survey and the bond referendum recently from citizens.

“We’re proud of our school system, but you need to educate us,” he said.

The meeting between the two boards was tentatively scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at City Hall.

The aldermen also approved .55 millage rate for the Oxford-Lafayette School of Applied Technology.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

— Approved a request to close a portion of S. 16th St. for the Spirits of Oxford event in October.

— Approved using Cline Tours for gameday shuttle services during home football games. The shuttles are run at no cost to the city. The expenses are paid through the $5 fee from riders and the University of Mississippi pays the remainder.

— Approved minor amendments for the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget.

— Approved extending the use of an interim public defender for the Municipal Court.

— Approved hiring Greg Fender, franchise negotiator, to work with MaxxSouth on the city’s behalf on the renewal of the city’s franchise agreement with the cable company.