OXFORD – It was standing room only at Monday’s Oxford Academy and Central School’s school board meeting, at least until someone brought out extra chairs. The meeting had near record attendance as concerned community members gathered in opposition to controversial capital project proposals being reviewed by the board.
A petition, complete with more than 660 signatures gathered in just over a week’s time, was presented to the board and district administration by Oxford resident Tom Emerson.
“We are all tremendously concerned about what it really takes to educate our children; we’re all concerned about the economy; and we’re all concerned about the proper utilization and maintenance of our current facilities,” he said in his address to the board.
Emerson said he had first been made aware of the potential capital project by his brother, David, a member of the district’s Facility Advisory Committee. Emerson said his brother had been frustrated by the lack of involvement the committee, which has not met since February, has had in the process so far.
“I urge you to get more input as you develop your options,” he said, citing his own involvement in two extensive capital projects with area non-profits. “In both instances, feasibility studies were conducted which gauged the support of the community and its ability and willingness to support the projects.”
He said this important step had been done before project details were developed. In the instance of the YMCA, he said, this community feedback led to the construction of the new Y downtown rather than the cheaper option of building a new campus on the outskirts of the city.
“You, the board, are elected by the residents of this district. Over 600 of your fellow residents have urged you to focus on quality education by maintaining, improving and utilizing our current facilities in their existing configuration,” urged Emerson. “Listen to the community and consider today’s economic climate.”