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Lafayette County School District approves latest SAT agreement

The back and forth between the Lafayette and Oxford School Districts regarding the use of the School of Applied Technology could be coming to an end shortly.

During a special meeting called on Monday, the Lafayette County school board approved the latest draft of the interlocal agreement regarding use of the “The Tech.”

The most recent version of the agreement, which has been the topic of heavy discussion for over a year, was drawn up by Oxford’s school board during a special meeting called on Feb. 7. The new agreement is for three years, beginning on July 1, 2020 and ending on June 30, 2023.

The previous drafts of the agreement were one-year in length.

Most of what the newest draft states was approved by Lafayette, though there were some sticking points their Board of Trustees took issue with and made changes to.

In the first paragraph of the agreement, it states that Oxford will be given “full and exclusive use of the shop space left vacant during the 2019-20 academic year.” The other areas on the property would be considered common space available to both school districts, as explained in the agreement.

“(My recommendation) is to share the space equally,” Lafayette school superintendent Dr. Adam Pugh said to the Board during Monday’s meeting. “It is a joint space. Whatever courses are offered, we have equal access to those courses with half the slots. With the empty space that we’ve got in that shop, whatever Oxford offers, then we request that same thing. We request half the slots available.”

On Feb. 11, Dr. Aimee Brown, who is the state director for the Mississippi Department of Education’s career and technical education office, sent a letter to Pugh and Oxford school superintendent Brian Harvey approving Oxford’s request to dissolve the current consortium between the two districts, beginning with the 2020-21 school year.

As of July 1, both districts will function as separate CTE centers with separate state and federal CTE budgets.

Brown’s letter also stated the state will not assist with the division of the building or any other assets locally owned on the property, but would assist with the division of CTE equipment items that are owned by the state.

Lafayette’s Board also voted to add language to the agreement that only CTE courses be offered at the SAT.

“Whatever is taught out there, I want students from both districts to have access to those career and technical programs,” Pugh said. “We don’t want to exclude Oxford or their students.”

Another proposal Lafayette made was that Oxford begin teaching their courses at 8 a.m. to coincide with Lafayette’s teachers staying later at the end of the day to accommodate Oxford’s students. SAT director Joey Carpenter said that would all hinge on whether or not Oxford makes any alterations to their schedule next school year.

Carpenter brought up the question of who approves what goes into the empty shop space and a potentially empty classroom for next year, and beyond, if they do not post the job opening and hire a teacher to fill it themselves. The local plan for the upcoming school year must be submitted by April 30, according to Carpenter. Pugh asked that Carpenter come to the SAT Board’s March meeting with course suggestions to fill open spaces.

Lafayette also approved paragraph five as-is, which states each school district will assign an administrator to the facility and will have their own office. The district will have “full and exclusive” access to the office given to their respective administrator. The district’s appointed administrator will be responsible for supervising its own employees and students and given disciplinary authority over the other district’s students who are cross-enrolled in the first district’s programs.

The approved agreement will be signed by Lafayette’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday and sent over to Oxford. The OSD Board of Trustees will hold their regular meeting on Feb. 24.