City schools seeks $37M in facility upgrades

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Sept. bond issue set for new buildings, renovations across district

Oxford School District (OSD) Superintendent Bradley Roberson led a public hearing July 13 to inform the community about planned capital improvements for the district. 

The hearing aimed to provide crucial information to the public ahead of a scheduled vote on a $37 million bond on Sept. 19.

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During the hearing, Roberson emphasized the significance of addressing maintenance needs promptly, saying, “one of the worst things you can do as superintendent is to defer maintenance.” 

He highlighted the district’s rapid growth and stressed the importance of keeping up with this growth to ensure students are not adversely affected. In order to identify necessary improvements and determine a cost-effective approach, a Capital Improvements Committee was established.

Since November 2021, the OSD has recognized an impending capacity issue within the school district. 

Enrollment numbers have already exceeded last July’s figures, indicating the urgency of the situation. To gain insights into parents’ concerns and priorities, a survey was sent out, generating 22 pages of feedback. 

Bramlett Elementary emerged as a facility in need of significant attention, while improved playgrounds across the district were frequently mentioned by parents of younger students. Roberson acknowledged the overarching issue of student capacity, projecting a growth rate of 2 to 3 percent annually for the next decade.

In preparation for the upcoming school year, the district has implemented grade realignments. Oxford Elementary School will now serve as Oxford Early Childhood Center, catering to PreK students. Bramlett Elementary will accommodate students from kindergarten to first grade, while Della Davidson will house grades 2 to 3. 

Central Elementary will serve grades 4 to 5, Oxford Intermediate School will cater to sixth-grade students, and Oxford Middle School will welcome students in grades 7 and 8. Finally, Oxford High School will be responsible for grades 9 to 12.

The grade realignment strategy has proven advantageous for the district’s financial planning. By reducing the number of facilities requiring additions from four to three, the district has saved between $5 million and $15 million. OSD’s responsible fiscal management has enabled them to absorb the costs of additions at Bramlett and Della Davidson.

Speaking specifically about the additions at Della Davidson, Roberson highlighted the inclusion of four new classrooms and offices. The building has also been fortified to serve as a storm shelter capable of accommodating the entire population of Della Davidson. Similar storm shelters have been incorporated into the additional facilities across the district, ensuring the safety of their respective populations.

Oxford High School will undergo significant additions, including a two-story Career Technical Education building that will also house the ROTC program. 

Recognizing the vulnerability of Oxford High School’s location, Roberson mentioned the inclusion of a guard shack at the roundabout as an alternative plan. Equipped with extending arms controlled by a guard, this measure aims to enhance security. 

Additionally, a new practice field for ROTC and the band will be situated behind the new Career Technical Education building.

At Oxford Middle School, construction of an additional athletic building is planned. This expansion will provide a larger weight room and a new practice field for soccer, football, and other sports. 

On Sept. 19, residents of the City of Oxford will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed $37 million bond. The outcome of this vote will determine the fate of the capital improvements outlined by Roberson during the public hearing.

With the public hearing providing crucial details and the bond vote approaching, the OSD and the community are actively engaged in addressing the district’s capital improvement needs and ensuring a conducive learning environment for its students.