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Open forum to focus on Oxford School District bond referendum

In two weeks, Oxford residents will head to the polls to vote “yes” or “no” on an $38 million bond referendum that will go toward building a new elementary school and renovations and additions to existing schools.

On Sept. 21, anyone who wishes to learn more about the bond and the projects it will fund is invited to attend an open forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Oxford at 7:30 p.m. in the parish hall at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey will make a presentation and then field questions from the audience.

“One of our purposes is to provide a nonpartisan forum for the community to promote an exchange of ideas on a variety of topics,” said Dianne Fergusson with the LWV. “We invite members of the community who have an interest in public education — and we hope that’s everyone — to join us for this informative evening.”

If the bond referendum passes, property taxes on a house valued at $100,000 will increase about $38 a year.

The district’s total bond capacity is $78 million. The district is already paying on a $30 million bond for the construction of Oxford High School, which leaves the district with a $10 million general bond capacity for future projects.

Harvey said the forum is an important event because it is another step in educating the community about the needs of the OSD.

“This bond referendum allows us to plan for the future by building a new elementary school,” he said. “Currently, we have first-graders in different buildings. We are out of space at Oxford Elementary.”

In order to offer more pre-K classes at Bramlett, space needs to be made for additional classrooms that are now being used for first-grade classes due to the overcrowding at Oxford Elementary.

The bond will also be used to provide for fine arts education at Oxford Intermediate, Oxford Middle and Oxford High School.

“It will also allow us to provide a higher quality education for our students with disabilities,” he said. “We will be renovating spaces in three existing schools and building space as part of a new elementary school. Oxford Elementary is the only school that does not have students who attended the Scott Center. The reason that none of those students are at OE is we are out of space.”

Harvey said some of the funds will go toward the completion of Oxford High School and the addition of a new fine arts facility.

“Every classroom is now being used,” he said. “As our community continues to grow, we will need the space within the building that is currently housing drama, art, chorus, strings and band. Construction of a fine arts facility will open up this space for future growth and more career-technical options, including culinary arts for our students.”

Voting on the bond referendum will be held on Sept. 26 at the Oxford Conference Center where polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For those unable to make it to the conference center to vote, absentee ballots can be picked up at City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Sept. 22 and from 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 23.

For more information, visit https://www.oxfordsd.org/BondRef.