Oxford Back At Drawing Board

By: Melissa Stagnaro

OXFORD – With their proposal to reconfigure grades “dead in the water,” Oxford’s facility committee went back to the drawing board on Tuesday night.

Their new focus is to examine ways in which they can renovate the existing buildings to better meet the current and future educational needs of students, while at the same time making use of EXCEL funding to limit the impact on local taxpayers.

“We want to (continue to) use the Middle School for education purposes,” said School Board President Robin DeBrita, who presided over the meeting.

On Feb. 22, the committee’s most recent proposal, to re-purpose the district’s current Middle School to house UPK through Grade 2, and shift all other classes to the Primary/High School campus, was shot down twice. First by the district’s faculty and staff, who said they wanted the configuration to stay as is, and then by their architect, Bernie Brown of the Bernier Carr Group, who reported that the State Education Department would not support, or aid, such a plan.

According to Brown on Tuesday, SED would however support an “improvement of existing space,” and creative use of that space to improve the overall school.

Using a list of recommendations generated by the faculty and staff as a jumping off point, the committee discussed a number of different possibilities including relocating the district’s bus garage from its present location at the Middle School.

“Bus garages receive full building aid,” said Brown, who discussed several transportation projects his firm has done at other districts.

According to community member John Weidman, who sits on the facility committee, there could be an opportunity to share the cost of such a facility with either the Village of Oxford and/or the Oxford Fire Department. Both, he explained, are actively looking for space to store vehicles on the West side of the river. The State Police are also looking to relocate from their current Norwich barracks, he added.

“We’ve done a number of shared facilities,” Brown said, explaining that all parties would need to sit down to discuss their needs and interest in such a project before proceeding. Superintendent Randy Squier said he would approach each entity to gauge their interest.

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