By Alyssa Schnugg
The deadline to submit the plan that would keep The Tech managed under the current consortium is approaching fast. However, before the plan can be submitted, Oxford and Lafayette County school districts still need an approved agreement within the next eight days.
The Tech, or School of Applied Technology, is jointly owned by the two districts – the building and the land. The teachers are funded by both districts and currently governed mostly by the SAT Board. The two schools are part of a consortium that allows the districts to receive reimbursements from the state for teacher salaries.
In April, the Oxford School District Board of Trustees approved a revised contract and sent it to the Lafayette County School District Board, which was denied.
The contract would have changed the SAT Board from a governing board to an advisory board. Superintendents and attorneys from both districts met to try to hash out issues to come to an agreement. Each board made some concessions and requirements from the other boards.
The SAT board is currently made up of six people – three from each school board.
During discussions earlier this month at a SAT Board meeting, Lafayette County Superintendent Adam Pugh told the OSD board members that their board wanted a two-year contract as it became clear that OSD’s ultimate goal was to eventually leave the consortium to create its own program so the OSD would get reimbursed for their Career Technology Courses. Pugh said his district needed two years to work out how it would continue to operate its CTC programming at The Tech.
On Monday, during the OSD regular meeting, the board members reviewed an updated version of the SAT agreement that would allow the board to remain a governing board; however, it is a one-year contract.
“It can’t be a two-year contract because we will have a new board and by law, one board cannot bind another board,” said Oxford Superintendent Brian Harvey.
Harvey said that remaining in the consortium is costing Oxford taxpayers money since the approximately $160,000 a year the district is paying for CTC teachers cannot be reimbursed.
Harvey also presented a Resolution of Intent to Withdraw from the consortium at the end of the 2019-2020 school year and expresses the OSD’s intent and “desire” to continue to working with the LCSD under a new arrangement to continue to offer classes at The Tech for Oxford and Lafayette students.
The OSD board voted to approve the new agreement and send it to the LCSD for its consideration; however, no motion was made to approve the resolution. Harvey said the resolution was not binding but its main purpose is to notify the LCSD and public of OSD’s intent to withdraw from the consortium after next school year.
Some of the OSD board members said they needed some more time to review the resolution.
The agreement needs to be approved by the LCSD by May 28 to meet the May 30 deadline to submit the Local Update Plan to the state. If the deadline is not met, and LCSD does not approve the new agreement, the consortium will be dissolved in June.
“And we don’t have a program next year,” Harvey said.
Harvey said he hopes the agreement is approved by the LCSD so the two districts have a year to figure out the logistics on how to continue to work together, share the Tech and its classroom and teachers so that Oxford and Lafayette students can continue to have access to all CTC classes offered in both districts.
“To students, they wouldn’t see any difference,” Harvey said. “This is about how the two school boards would work together. We need to work out what that will look like. This isn’t about people losing their jobs or anything. I believe there is a way we can continue to work together and share that facility.”
If the agreement is signed and the consortium ends at the end of the next school year, the SAT board would be dissolved and the boards for the two districts would then consider and/or approve Tech matters individually.