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OSD to continue negotiations with City for Elementary School Property

The Oxford School District Board of Trustees decided not to take action regarding the acceptance or rejection of bids made by the city of Oxford for the Oxford Elementary School property during a special meeting on Tuesday.

The highest potential bidder was none other than the city of Oxford, who offered OSD $2.1 million for the property, according to Mayor Robyn Tannehill. In a meeting last week, Tannehill announced the city’s intention to repurpose the property into a new home for the Oxford Police Department, should they be awarded the bid.

However, the school board made no motions in favor of or against the selling the property. The decision to let the bid expire came after a brief executive session, before resuming the public meeting to announce their intent.

Board member Ray Hill said that, while he was in favor of selling the property to the city, the bid was lower than the school board’s appraised value of $2.81 million.

“I brought up Mayor Tannehill’s points about it being best for the city, and I completely agree with that,” Hill said. “I’m worried about taking less than the appraised value. That concerns me. Our legal counsel has told us that we have the ability to negotiate with the city regarding the purchase price without having to bid it.”

The school board voted to start accepting bids on March 27, after announcing its intent to sell the school in February. According to the school board, the plan is to build a new elementary school next to Oxford Intermediate School, on the site of what was formerly known as Central School. The Central School building is scheduled to be demolished in January 2019.

For Tannehill, she said the decision came somewhat as a surprise. The city conducted its own appraisal of the property, placing its value at $702,500 – $1.3 million less than the city’s official bid.

“What it made us as a board decide was that ours was really low and theirs was really high, and so that’s how we arrived at a $2.1 million offer,” Tannehill said. “We didn’t come and say, ‘Hey, do us a favor. Give us the school.’ We said, ‘Let’s bid what we think is a fair value for the school district,’ and that’s what we did.”

The indecision does not mean discussions between the city and OSD about the property have come to an end. Rather, further discussion is expected to occur in coming weeks, according to OSD school board president Gray Edmondson.

“We do want to sell to the city,” Edmondson said. “We want to keep working with the city regardless.”