Growing Pains: Regents to add temporary classrooms as it moves towards expansion

Published 5:22 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Regents School of Oxford is making moves to expand as its student body grows. The Christian school’s first steps are to add temporary classrooms while making plans for a new campus.

Regents submitted a request to the Lafayette County Planning Commission for a conditional use permit and for preliminary and final site plan approval and the case was heard before commissioners on Monday evening.

Precision Engineering President Paul Koshenina, acting as the school’s representative, told Planning Commissioners the school sits at approximately 315 students currently. By the fall, Regents is expected to have 350-60 students.

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Precision Engineering has been working with Regents for close to a year on plans for the new campus.

“The school … has grown and they are in need of additional classroom space,” said Koshenina. “They currently have a couple of temporary classrooms and they are proposing to erect on-site two temporary classrooms.”

The two temporary classrooms will be located directly adjacent to the campus, behind the College Hill Water Association tower, on property belonging to College Hill Presbyterian Church.

However, Regents’ expansion plans are receiving pushback from College Hill residents who are dealing with issues stemming from the school. The expansion plans would potentially exacerbate already present problems.

The community members report on the road conditions (too small and not designed to handle the traffic it deals with daily) and knocked over signs.

“We cannot get through County Road 128, which curves into 130,” said College Hill resident Shani Fox. “I can’t go up there at certain times and drop my water bill in the box because they park here, there and everywhere. It’s improved after we complained to the Sheriff.”

Parking becomes extremely difficult during game days and locals encounter issues Residents also believe the temporary classrooms would change the character of a historic area in College Hill, in addition to the dangers expansion might present to the community.

“They’re going to put a trailer, in essence, over there in the middle of the historic district in College Hill and then they’re going to have I guess high school students are going to be crossing the road,” Fox said. “Then they’re going to have a huge parking lot with them parking all down the sides of County Road 128 … They will put more traffic on that road and you’ll get killed if you aren’t careful. It was not made for a huge school.”

“We’ve got to preserve this part of our community,” said Linda Sallis. Sallis lives in close proximity to Regents and can view the traffic from the front and back of her home. “[CR] 128 is not the road to handle the traffic it takes.”

Koshenina responded to the comments from Fox and Sallis, agreeing that Regents’ growth is creating issues for the greater community but that the school is working quickly to address them.

“There’s too many kids on the property and I’m doing my best on how to quickly get this figured out and reduce the amount of people on the property which is why we purchased new land and why we’re trying to get that building up as soon as we can,” he said.

Regents plans to reduce the amount of students on the current property. Once the campus is complete, half of the student population will be moved over to the new location. Students in 3K to 5th grade will stay at the current campus and 6th through 12th grade will move to the new property.

In addition, 18 parking spots will be added to eliminate a majority of cars that park on the roads.

The school plans to break ground for the new campus later this year and is estimated to begin occupying the new campus in its first phase around December 2023, said Koshenina.

The Lafayette County Planning Commission 4 to 1, with the vote falling in favor of Regents’ request for a conditional use permit. Commissioner Jason Kent voted against the request. However, the board voted unanimously in favor of preliminary and site plan approval.

Although Regents received the go-ahead, it will be required to providing the community game day schedules and committed to closing on Election Day to avoid community events and parking conflicts. Additionally, the two temporary classroom units will also have to be removed by May 2024.