By Alyssa Schnugg
After a better part of a year of back and forth negotiations, the Oxford and Lafayette County school districts have reached an agreement on the management of the School of Applied Technology — at least for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Oxford School District Board of Trustees signed the latest version of the agreement sent to them by the Lafayette County School District during their regular meeting Monday evening. While the agreement states it is a three-year agreement, Superintendent Brian Harvey pointed out the current board cannot bind future boards to contracts.
The Lafayette County School Board signed the agreement last week and sent it on to the OSD for its consideration. No changes or additions were made by the Oxford trustees who approved the contract unanimously as presented by Lafayette.
The contract approved Monday has The Tech space shared “equally” by the two districts. Both districts already equally own the property and the building that the school occupies.
“Each school district may use any portions of the facility to provide whatever instructional programming it deems appropriate to its educational mission as long as it is a career and technical education program,” the agreement states.
Students from both school districts will have equal access to all classes offered at The Tech. Lafayette will ensure its teachers stay late in accordance with Oxford’s bell schedule and Oxford will ensure its teachers arrive by 8 a.m. in accordance to Lafayette’s bell schedule.
Lafayette will hire an employee to perform janitorial services and an administrative assistant and Oxford will pay half of those salaries. An administrator from each district will have an office at the school.
In June 2019, the OSD notified the LCSD of its intent to withdraw from the consortium that allows the districts to receive reimbursements from the state for teacher salaries. The OSD wants its own Career Technology Education program so it can receive funding from the state for its program and teachers’ salaries.
The current consortium will end on June 30 and there will no longer be one combined governing board.
Harvey recommended signing the agreement to the board members Monday.
“It meets both districts’ short-term needs and long-term direction,” Harvey said. “It allows Lafayette to maintain all of the programming and control of its programming. It also allows our students to continue to attend with the same guaranteed number of slots we have now … It also allows our students the full block of instruction and that is better than our students (attending The Tech) have ever had.”
The board also made it clear that in the long term, it is the district’s goal to eventually move away from sending students to The Tech and offer Oxford students the same CTE courses on the OSD campus.
“It provides us with a timeline for a potential withdrawal from the facility and an investigation in how we can build some of these programs on our own campus,” Harvey said. “Of which the positive nature is that we will have more kids who will enroll in those programs if they do not have to get a bus and drive over there because they’ll be on our campus.”