Oxford High School construction on hold

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – Oxford School Board members are re-evaluating their plans for a new high school with an eye to trimming costs from plans that had included generous amenities.
The board was scheduled to award a contract last week, but the lowest bid was $35,326,000, far above the $30 million bond issue that voters approved last year.
Board Chairman Buddy Chain said Interim Superintendent Brian Harvey, architects and other professionals will work on bridging the funding gap and make recommendations to the school board in early April.
“We’re going back and looking at all the different options and all the different resources we have and how they match up,” Chain said.
The new school’s opening was originally set for January 2013 but was soon rescheduled for August 2013. It is likely this new delay will push back the opening to January 2014, said Assistant Superintendent Bill Hamilton.
“We’re at a point where even a month’s delay can make it hard to finish on time,” he said.
Hamilton said some cost savings could be as simple as using conventional new brick in place of the recycled brick formerly proposed.
“When you’re bidding materials, a lot of those LEED-certified materials obviously add cost,” he said. “You’re looking at types of brick, types of roofing materials. You need to go back and make sure they’re what we really need.”
Chain said school officials are concerned about cutting costs on the front end that could result in higher operating costs over the lifetime of the building.
“We’ll look at using less expensive material, but we’ve got to find how that might affect any savings we’re anticipating from meeting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification,” he said.
Hamilton said while some elements of the state-of-the-art campus will have to be pared back or delayed – continuing to use the recently renovated performing arts center at the current Oxford High is one possibility, for instance – the new school will by no means be a bare-bones facility.
“We bid what people wanted; now we’ve got to rebid on what we need,” he said. “We’re going to build a school, and it’s going to be nice.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com