By Alyssa Schnugg
While some progress was made between the Oxford and Lafayette School Districts signing the annual agreement in regards to the School of Applied Technology after the superintendents and attorneys for both district met last week, there are still a few walls left standing dividing the two districts.
The School of Applied Technology Board is made up of six members – three from each school district’s board and manages the school. Lafayette County School District has been responsible for the day-to-day oversight of operations, maintenance and personnel of the SAT and serves as its fiscal agent.
During a meeting of the SAT board Thursday, Lafayette County Superintendent Adam Pugh presented copies of information requested by the Oxford School District that included financial reports, student enrollment data and a list of The Tech’s faculty and staff. The Lafayette County School Board also agreed to add additional teacher days to match the OSD’s calendar.
Afterward, Pugh told Oxford’s Superintendent Brian Harvey and the SAT representatives from the OSD that he wanted verbiage added that would allow The Tech to add additional classes or programs if needed.
Earlier this year, the OSD was informed by its attorney, Paul Watkins, that the contract needed to be updated as the state’s laws have changed, and that the SAT board should be an advisory board only. The OSD board sent over a new agreement which the Lafayette County School Board denied. During a SAT meeting in April, the two boards agreed to allow the two superintendents and attorneys meet to try to work on the agreement.
During the April meeting, Harvey said the OSD is moving toward adding more Career Technology Education courses with the goal of having its own program and moving away from the consortium between the two school districts.
On Thursday, Pugh said his board is not willing to dissolve the current SAT board.
“That’s non-negotiable,” Pugh said. “In order for us to reach an agreement this board has to stay intact,” Pugh said.
Harvey said he thought the two school districts’ attorneys could work out the issues for at least the next year.
“That doesn’t keep us from in the future moving toward us having our own program,” Harvey said. “I think we can work out whatever we need to over the next year.”
However, Pugh said one year was not enough time.
“We want a two-year agreement,” Pugh said. “I know that’s something you all will have go back and talk about … We want a two-year agreement to do what’s best for our kids. We feel like two years gives us enough time, that when this thing is dissolved as you’ve requested, that gives us enough time to do what we need to do.”
Harvey said if his board agreed to the adding the verbiage to allow for additional classes or programs he would recommend to his board that it be done with a 4 to 1 vote, rather than a 3 to 2 vote like it is currently. While there are six members on the board, the president is a non-voting seat, which means one school district will always have one more voting member than the other district.
“I don’t know if we can agree to that,” Pugh said.
Last year, Lafayette wanted to add a culinary arts program; however, it was voted down 3 to 2 by the SAT board.
The board agreed to meet again on June 6 to give both school boards time to discuss the requests made Thursday by both superintendents.