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Questions and Comments from Bond Referendum Community Meeting on April 10, 2017

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Oxford, Mississippi (April 18, 2017)—The Oxford School District held its first community meeting—Monday, April 10, 2017, at Oxford Middle School—on a proposed bond referendum to build a new elementary school. During the community meeting, public input was gathered and below are some questions and comments community members presented.

Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey offers the district’s responses below to questions posed during the community meeting.

  1. What are the limitations of the Oxford Elementary School site option?
    1. Limitations of the site where Oxford Elementary School is located are ingress (the way in) and egress (the way out) of the campus site for parents and buses, size of the facility, including size of individual classrooms and the cafeteria.
  2. So, does the current Oxford School District student enrollment number take into account the growth of the county overall or any growth overall?
    1. The student enrollment numbers that were presented represent current students. Over the last several years we have averaged 3 percent to 5 percent student growth per year. In most years, this growth is accounted for by an increase in kindergarten students.
  3. Concerning the student-teacher ratio: I’m puzzled by the chart in the presentation. From trying to make sense of this chart, it looks like the student growth numbers at Oxford Elementary seem to be stable over 4 to 5 years, but Della Davidson Elementary School and Oxford High School seem to see the most student growth. How does that growth factor into the overall picture for the proposed bond referendum? Building a new elementary school is not going to address the growth at Della Davidson and Oxford High School, will it?
    1. Della Davidson Elementary School and Oxford High School can accommodate more students than are currently present or than are projected to attend based on current student enrollment. Bramlett Elementary School is already accommodating four classes of first graders who cannot attend Oxford Elementary School due to the size constraints of the school.
  4. Referring to the district’s current capital improvement plan (last updated in spring 2016): do you anticipate that growth at Della Davidson Elementary School and Oxford High School are addressed in the current capital improvement plan?
    1. Yes, based on current student enrollment and with the use of creative scheduling, we can accommodate additional students at Della Davidson Elementary School and Oxford High School in the short term. These two schools were identified for renovations and/or additions from 2020 to 2025.
  5. Schools’ landscape: what is the district thinking about 15 years down the road regarding student growth and the possibility of zoning our schools? Is that being discussed right now? If so, how many years down the road would Oxford start zoning?
    1. Although we are growing, we are not growing fast enough to justify moving to neighborhood schools or zoning for the Oxford School District. This is something that will have to be considered as our community, and specifically, the Oxford School District continue to grow.
  6. Please explain what zoning is. Can you give examples?
    1. Zoning involves drawing superficial lines within the school district and assigning students to certain schools based on their address. In a way, our community already zones for schools. Based on their address, students attend either the Oxford School District or the Lafayette County School District.
  7. Would zoning students happen over multiple grades for the Oxford School District?
    1. Yes, if zoning were considered, we would have to consider the maximum number of students that could attend a particular school and draw lines that would take into account the enrollment of students that live in certain areas.
  8. Talk about option 3 a little bit; if you added 3-4 classrooms at Oxford Elementary School, would that mean the first-grade classes at Bramlett Elementary School would move back to Oxford Elementary?
    1. Yes, additional classes at Oxford Elementary School would allow us to move those first-grade students back to Oxford Elementary. In my opinion, taking into consideration how our community is growing, this would be a short-term solution.
  9. If we don’t pursue a bond referendum, what about the option of adding classes at Della Davidson Elementary to help meet the district’s growth? What if we put the extra first-grade classrooms at Della Davidson Elementary School instead of Bramlett Elementary School?
    1. This is certainly an option, but it would mean that some first-grade students would attend a school with third and fourth graders. This is less than ideal and would give parents great concern.
  10. If we were to zone, that wouldn’t solve the space problem, right?
    1. Zoning would solve the immediate needs, but the long-term space issues would remain.
  11. Say we pass the bond issue, and we build a new elementary school: does Oxford Elementary get shut down? What happens to the Oxford Elementary campus, building?
    1. Current discussions have Oxford Elementary School being renovated into Oxford School District Central Office administrative space. Right now, our administrative offices are split between two buildings: the old Central Elementary campus (containing student registration, special education, information technology, child nutrition, federal programs and curriculum) and the existing Central Office (containing superintendent, operations, human resources and business office).
  12. If we build a new school, we are not going to move another grade into Oxford Elementary School and say that there is plenty of room there, are we?
    1. Current discussions have the existing Oxford Elementary School building being used as Central Office administrative space. No grades will be assigned to that building.
  13. If we build a new school and separate first and second grades, are we going to have to hire new administration for the new elementary school?
    1. No, the existing staff at Oxford Elementary School will occupy the new elementary school.
  14. At the presentation of several architecture firms, there were comments made that people wanted historic buildings preserved or used if possible. The thing that bothers me with the current capital improvement plan is that the preliminary plan was for $1.2 million to renovate OE and to restructure it for Central Office. I think it would behoove the Board to explore current school building space options for the new central office and run the numbers to see which is the most cost-effective choice.
    1. Preliminary work has been done in this area. The board and superintendent agree that the old Central Elementary campus must be evaluated and options for its best use explored.
  15. In the current capital expenditure plan, there was mention of a career-technical center or school being put in place—is that still an option?
    1. Career and technical education is something that the board considered as part of the original design of Oxford High School. Although we are willing and enthusiastic partners of the School of Applied Technology and the Lafayette County School District, additional career and technical options are needed to provide the services that our students deserve and our local business community needs.
  16. Under option 4, you would move forward with the bond referendum, create a new elementary school and renovate Oxford Elementary School to become a new Oxford School District Central Office. Would Oxford Elementary School remain a two-grade-level building if a new elementary school was built to replace it?
    1. Yes, discussions have centered around a two-grade school which would accommodate up to 750 students.
  17. I appreciate the work of the district on this topic, and I have voted for every bond issue since I have lived here. I am here to share this comment: there is still a big part of the community that’s upset that there was not a performance arts facility built with the last bond referendum for Oxford High School. I feel that if a performance arts facility is not a part of this bond referendum, then a proposed bond referendum this time will not be successful, and every five years we are going to hear about building new schools.
    1. The performing arts center was in the original design of the new high school; however, we did not have the funds available to build the high school as designed after bids were received. In order to build the much needed facility to accommodate the growth that was eminent, the performing arts center had to be cut from the project. Academic space was and still is our main concern. It is the goal of the board, past and present, to build a performing arts center of which our community can be proud; however, we do have to prioritize needs based on current known needs and those identified from the community.