Oxford Schools extend architects’ contract

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – School board members voted 5-0 Thursday to amend their contract with the Jackson architectural firm that designed the new Oxford High School for the firm to trim the design for a second bid effort.
The first bids came in several million dollars over the $30 million projection, and district personnel and architects are considering every change that could cut costs without sacrificing function – or too much.
“We’ve cut out $3 million so far,” said architect Michael Jones. “We’ve looked at the overhang around the building and changed that to two feet; that would save about $450,000.”
Jones assured board members the redesign would not include false economy.
“Hardware is important to us as school designers; that’s something we wouldn’t scrimp on,” he said, adding that roofs and durable walls would also still be of the highest-quality materials. Each change is tested to see how it affects LEED certification and energy efficiency, he added.
Jones said school board members would make the final decisions in where to cut the design.
Some vocational programs such as health sciences will be put on hold to provide space for theater and music programs until the performing arts center can be added to the campus later. One serendipitous adaptation will be the conversion of a courtyard into an outdoor theater space.
Oxford School District will pay Eley Guild Hardy 80 percent of its original fee for the work done thus far and the other 20 percent if a bid is accepted.
Chairman Buddy Chain put Eley Guild Hardy on notice that a second embarrassment in the bid process would not be welcomed.
“I hope we’ll get it down around $31 million,” architect Taylor Guild said.
“If it’s much over $30 million, I’m going to vote against it,” Chain replied.
errol.castens@journalinc.com