OXFORD – Two major capital improvement projects within the Oxford School District were completed just in time for the biggest student population in its history.
The new Oxford High School just off Sisk Avenue in the Oxford Commons development was completed in December 2013 and opened in January of this year. As soon as it was vacated, contractors started work on the old high school, on Bramlett Boulevard, and it reopened last week as the new campus of Oxford Middle School.
“As of Thursday … we’re at 4,120,” said Assistant Superintendent Bill Hamilton at Monday’s school board meeting. “Last year on the same date, we had 3,972. We’re up roughly 145 to 150 students over last year.
“I would look for this number to go up just a little bit,” he said.
This fall’s underclassmen at OHS were a major factor in the tight schedule to get the capital improvements done.
“The ninth and 10th grades each have more than 300,” Hamilton said. “At the high school we have somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 students this year. … “You can predict that if you graduate 199 and have 300 freshmen coming, well, that’s why the new high school was built.”
The old high school building was so crowded in its last several semesters that hallways were designated as one-way corridors between classes.
The building comfortably accommodates its new population of seventh- and eighth-graders, and halls now offer two-way traffic.
Superintendent Brian Harvey said recent birth statistics indicate even more growth is in the pipeline.
“Based on live birth reports, we will have one or maybe two more groups in the 330 range, then we’ll go back up the 370 range for at least the next two years. This year we got roughly 65 percent of the live births born in Lafayette County.
This year’s kindergarten class has topped 320 so far, but that could still grow.
A new schedule provides separate buses for upper and lower grades and lets upper grades start 40 to 50 minutes later than lower grades. Harvey said its anticipated benefits already are visible.
“The secondary schools are a more relaxed atmosphere,” he said. “Students are a little better prepared for the day.”
OHS has some traffic confusion, which has resulted in two fender-benders in the first week of school.
A newly opened parking lot on the east side of the school tempts drivers to exit right onto Charger Loop to shortcut the one-way, counter-clockwise route that bids them to go around the entire campus.
“We need to instruct people,” Harvey said.