Oxford ponders savings, will rebid new high school

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Oxford School District trustees agreed to advertise again for bids on construction of a new Oxford High School.
As proposed, advertisements will be issued in late June, with bids to be opened in late July.
Bids received in March for the campus to accommodate 1,200 students were well over the $30 million expected, and district officials and architects from the Jackson-based Eley Guild Hardy firm have focused efforts on trimming costs from the project.
“Trying to cut $6 million out of building is not easy,” said architect Michael Jones. “There’s going to be some pain involved.”
One saving proposed was to delay the purchase of cafeteria equipment for the third and fourth serving lines.
“I don’t see how omitting this would serve our students,” said board member Whitney Byars. “That’s one of the biggest complaints about the high school [now]: Kids don’t have time enough to eat.”
Another suggestion was to separate landscaping from the construction bid to take advantage of the lesser costs involved for a local landscaper’s return visits to tend new plantings.
“You can probably save 20 to 30 percent on the landscaping by having somebody local bid on it,” said architect Taylor Guild.
The original four-foot overhang on buildings will be cut to two feet, offering an estimated $459,000 savings, along with more savings from the lesser firewalls they will require, said Tim Pruitt, the district’s construction supervisor.
Pruitt offered additional savings by foregoing his building-site office trailer in favor of working in the eventual contractor’s on-site office.
Pruitt said polished concrete floors will save money over tile both in original construction costs and in maintenance, that smaller window segments (with the same overall glass area) will require less-expensive structural members and that replacing glass stair and balcony rails with aluminum would provide substantial savings.
“We’re still shooting for LEED certified,” Jones said, referring to a “green” certification for buildings. “If you want to drop that altogether, we can probably save some more.”
Superintendent Brian Harvey assured teachers, students and parents that the suggested changes will not diminish the school’s educational value.
“We haven’t done anything to reduce the functionality of the building,” he said.
errol.castens@journalinc.com