Schools eye $8.2M in parking lot, sidewalk repairs

Voters will be asked to approve two proposals – a $28.28 million bond and a 5-year, 0.75-mill sinking fund – on the November ballot, both of which would be used to fund a variety of capital improvement projects throughout the Oxford school district.

Should the proposals be approved, officials are looking to invest a total of $30.4 million into transportation, building systems, site improvements, roofing, technology infrastructure, security cameras/access and playgrounds throughout the district.

The Oxford Leader

is taking an in-depth look at the projects which have been proposed within each of these categories by district officials. In this issue, the Leader is exploring Oxford Schools’ proposed updates to technology.

Officials are hoping to spend approximately $8.2 million on the replacement of asphalt parking lots, driveways and concrete sidewalks throughout the district.

Parking lots and sidewalks at each of the district’s schools would be completely or partially repaired should the proposals pass, according to Superintendent Tim Throne.

The parking lot at the district’s bus garage would also be replaced.

While some portions of parking lots and sidewalks throughout the district were replaced using proceeds from the district’s 2009 bond proposal, those sections were said by Throne to have been “patched” rather than replaced.

“There comes a point where you can’t patch (lots) and do minor fixes anymore. You need to totally do a rebuild and that’s what we’re looking to do,” he added.

One major driveway within the district which would be completely replaced, according to Throne, would be Wildcat Drive.

A damaged portion of Wildcat Drive, which leads into Oxford Middle School (OMS), was excavated and repaired over the summer— costing the district a little over $141,000 in total.

This was done in conjunction with Oxford Township’s recent water main project, which connected the Lake Villa Manufactured Home Community to the municipal water system.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the township and school district, in which they agreed to split the cost of the road work– with the township paying a third and the district paying two-thirds.

This allowed the district to save a portion of the cost which would have been required to repave a damaged portion of Wildcat Drive, while also providing a reduced cost to the township by cutting through the property.

According to Throne, should the proposals pass, officials would repair the remainder of both inbound lanes along with the existing outbound lanes.

When asked which of the district’s current parking lots are in the worst shape, Throne had a difficult time identifying just one. He described the parking lots at Oxford Early Learning Center, OMS, Oxford High School, and Oxford Elementary to all be in “really rough shape.”

“To be honest, I don’t know if I can narrow it down because there are so many spots that need to be redone,” Throne added.

Should the sinking fund proposal pass, officials are also looking to increase available parking at Leonard Elementary School.

An additional 30-car parking lot would be built on the east-back side of the elementary school, according to Director of Maintenance Tony Sarkins.

“The lot is a very compact space right now and our enrollment numbers have grown at Leonard over the last couple of years,” said Throne. “It’s become more and more difficult to navigate the parking lot there. Since we only have one parking lot, everyone’s got to try and make it work right now. We would love to put in an additional parking lot that all of our employees and staff could take advantage of and that would open up the existing parking lot for all of our families and visitors.”

Should the proposals pass, a portion of the $8.2 million would also go towards switching existing parking lot lighting to energy-saving light-emitting diode (LED) lighting.

Throne added that the parking lot and sidewalk replacements would not only improve the district’s image—but that they would, more importantly, improve safety for students, staff and visitors to the district.

“While they are not glamorous… driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, lighting… those get used every day with our students and parents and families,” said Throne. “At some point, it does become a safety issue, not just an aesthetics issue and we want our facilities to reflect the priority that we give both safety and education in Oxford. When you have well-maintained, good-looking facilities, I think it is a reflection on what you value as a district.”

 

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