By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Dirt could be turned by mid-May on the site of the future Oxford High School.
The Oxford Planning Commission approved the site plan for the 75-acre campus Tuesday. Sisk Avenue, off Highway 7 North, will be extended eastward to reach the site, which is part of the 550-acre Oxford Commons planned urban development.
“We are projecting out that 1,200 would get us accommodated for 10 to 15 years,” said Superintendent of Education Kim Stasny. “If growth occurs quicker than it has, this would easily expand to accommodate 1,500.”
The academic complex will consist of four separate buildings – one for most ninth-grade classes and the others for different scholastic disciplines – joined to a central administrative and commons area. The brick-and-pillar façade reflects an architectural theme set by the University of Mississippi and repeated frequently around Oxford.
Along with a quadrangle anchored by a clock tower, the campus will also have a fine arts and performing arts building and an indoor athletic facility with both practice and competition gymnasiums.
School board members and architects are aiming for certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, which recognizes both architectural and systemic efficiencies. Michael Jones of Eley Guild Hardy Architects noted plans to accommodate both pedestrian and bicycle-commuting students.
“There’s a LEED point you can add if you can get the (Oxford-University Transit) route to come out here,” he said.
Phase 1 of the construction will be the academic complex. The football stadium will be next, as its leveling will provide fill material for low areas in the currently hilly terrain.
School Board President Bela J. “Buddy” Chain Jr. was pleased with the results of the year-long planning effort.
“I think we’ve got a good set of plans,” he said. “It’ll have the ability to expand, and we’ve got the academy concept for the ninth grade, which we’re very pleased with. I think it’ll be a good addition to the community.”
Stasny said the bidding process could be completed within about a month.
“We can start dirt work within six weeks,” she said. “We’re on track for August 2013 to open.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.