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Oxford School District has “no intention of eliminating courses” at The Tech

After the Oxford School District authorized their lawyer to begin the partitioning of the School of Applied Technology during a special meeting last Friday, superintendent Brian Harvey has clarified their stance.

Oxford’s Board of Trustees re-approved their version of the interlocal agreement with Lafayette County School District that they approved during a special meeting on Jan. 8. Lafayette’s school board opted to not take any action on the proposed agreement during their regular meeting on Feb. 3, in an effort to get more information before making a decision.

During OSD’s special meeting on Feb. 7, they added language to the re-approved agreement, specifying if Lafayette did not sign the agreement by Feb. 14, then Harvey was given authorization to send a letter to Mississippi’s Department of Education Office of Career and Technical requesting the dissolution of the Oxford and Lafayette County consortium.

In an email sent to parents of OSD students on Thursday, Harvey clarified they are not intending to take courses away from students at either school district.

“We have no intention of eliminating courses that our students are currently taking,” Harvey’s letter read. “Nor is it our intent to remove access for any Lafayette County student from any program at the TECH. We strongly desire that students from both districts be able to participate at the TECH without regard to which district actually runs the program.”

In June 2019, OSD informed Lafayette’s school board of their intent to withdraw from the current consortium that allows the districts to receive reimbursements from the state for teacher salaries. Oxford also expressed at the time their desire to create their own program, so they can receive funding from the state to run it.

Oxford is proposing the addition of culinary arts, engineering, health science/sports medicine, law and public safety, information technology, horticulture, early childhood development and HVAC to their career and technical offerings.

Oxford also wants to continue running the SAT jointly with Lafayette, but a new agreement has yet to be signed by both parties.

In the last two versions of the agreement, the allotment of space for each district to have exclusive access to has become a point of issue. Lafayette’s most recent proposal had square-footage measurements that would give them 23,000 square feet and Oxford roughly 8,500 square-feet.

Oxford’s counter in their revised proposal was a more even distribution of space, with each district having two workshops and Lafayette getting 17,000 square feet to Oxford’s 16,800.

“Our goal at Lafayette is to find a way to serve (Oxford and Lafayette students),” Lafayette County school superintendent Dr. Adam Pugh told the EAGLE on Tuesday. “Whatever that looks like, we’re going to have to get Oxford to agree with it. We don’t want to give up any programs, nor do we plan on giving up any programs. We want to continue to offer things that meet the needs of our students. We want to expand our program. Our Board is not going to act on threat of a deadline.”

Pugh did not say whether they would make any decisions on the agreement before the Oxford-imposed Feb. 14 deadline. Lafayette has not called any special meetings for its school board, which does not meet again until March 2. Oxford’s next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 24.

The reasoning for OSD calling the special meeting last week was due to time running out for Oxford students, according to Harvey. Students begin selecting courses for the 2020-21 school year later this month.