What is the future of Oxford Elementary School?

Published 10:13 am Monday, May 15, 2017

With the Oxford School District looking to possibly build a new elementary school, the board met to discuss what to do with their current Oxford Elementary School property out on Highway 30.

Superintendent Brian Harvey discussed how the future of the school is up in the air.

“We’ve talked about expanding the cafeteria to different ways in and out, additional classroom space, the topography of the site and how all of those things contribute to it being very limited to its use as a school,” Harvey said. “It certainly has its uses, but it may not be as a school.”

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Paul Watkins, the board’s attorney, spoke with the group about possible options moving forward. Watkins noted how a factor affecting the decision is that the property lies on both city and county lines.

“The driveway and the front office is in the city and most of the back of the school is out in the county,” the attorney noted. “The city is in the process of looking at annexations and re-zonings. This may be a good time for the school district or a potential purchaser to approach the aldermen and say, ‘here’s the project we’re interested in doing,’ and it may be something they are interested in or not in doing.”

Watkins said that the rezoning will take place in the “not too distant future.”

“There will be annexation, more than likely, sooner rather than later,” he said. “The city has someone they’ve met with several times. They haven’t decided that this is going to be an annexation area or that any other areas are, but there is more than likely going to be a big annexation initiated in the next few months.”

The attorney noted a statute that would allow the district to enter into arrangements with potential purchasers for a stake in the development.

“It might yield a greater return than what you could get just from a public bid process,” Watkins said. “You would also be able to leverage your stake against whatever other bonds you want to issue. There are opportunities for the district to actually finance the development.”

Harvey said the most immediate need from a construction standpoint is what to do with Oxford Elementary.

“Depending on where we put (OE), that could displace more than half of the central office,” the superintendent said. “Those people have to go somewhere or they have to work from home. If we’re going to leave that property undisturbed, then it’s not an immediate need. But then we’re going to have to go out and borrow money to buy property somewhere else.”

At the meeting’s conclusion, the board voted to bring PEC Surveying and Mapping to Oxford to look at the property. By mid-June, they plan to have bids available from development companies.