Oxford School District approves tech school agreement

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, May 22, 2019

During Monday’s regular meeting, the Oxford School District Board of Trustees approved the newest version of an agreement to work with Lafayette regarding the School of Applied Technology. The Board also discussed the idea of leaving the joint consortium with Lafayette following the 2019-20 school year to begin their own program. 

A new agreement between the two school districts regarding The Tech has been a contentious one at times over the past few months. Oxford’s board initially approved an agreement earlier this year where they wanted to dissolve the current Tech Board and create a new one that would serve more in an advisory role. Lafayette’s School Board rejected that agreement in April. Since then, the two sides have been trying to find a compromise that would be agreed upon by each party involved. 

Monday’s meeting saw OSD superintendent Brian Harvey propose a resolution that would notify Lafayette of their intent to agree to a one-year contract and then leave withdraw from the current arrangement the following school year. 

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“I would love to work out a way where (Lafayette) could continue to operate three programs, we continue to operate three programs and our students really wouldn’t know any difference as to why they were getting to go to this program or that program,” Harvey said during the meeting. “It’s just a way of how the boards work together and it’s not in a consortium that’s identified by the state. Each of us have our own programs.” 

The key reason for Oxford wanting to leave the current agreement with Lafayette and branch out into its own program is the desire to get reimbursed. The current consortium Oxford and Lafayette are a part of does not allow Oxford to get receive any money back on expenditures made in regards to the Tech and its programs. 

The resolution to give Oxford’s intent to withdraw after one more year was met with hesitation by a couple board members. Romona Reed and Scott Shipman were concerned with the current wording of the resolution could be misinterpreted. A motion to approve the resolution was not seconded and the board shelved it. 

“I know too many kids that are so passionate (about classes at the Tech), like auto mechanics,” Shipman said. “I have a kid in my Sunday School class and that’s his life and if I took that away from himI can’t do that.” 

The agreement was unanimously approved with Oxford wanting to stick to a one-year agreement instead of a two-year agreement Lafayette superintendent Adam Pugh proposed during last month’s Tech Board meeting.

Harvey noted the reasoning behind wanting only a one-year agreement is also due to the fact if both districts got into a two-year agreement that there could potentially be a new Oxford Board of Trustees during that time and would have their hands tied with an agreement made by a previous Board. 

Part of the approved agreement comes a stipulation of Oxford asking Lafayette to agree to it by May 28 to allow Oxford time to send their Local Plan to the Mississippi Department of Education by the May 31 deadline.