District wants to put $12.6M into bldg. system improvements

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 will take an in-depth look at the projects which have been proposed within each of these categories by district officials.

In this issue, The Leader will explore the final category in which Oxford school officials have proposed to make updates– building systems.

Officials are hoping to spend approximately $12.6 million on the improvement of building systems throughout the district.

According to Superintendent Tim Throne, most of this total would be spent on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system updates and additions throughout the schools.

Currently, many of the district’s elementary schools have air conditioning units installed exclusively within the main office areas.

Should the proposed bond be approved, Throne said the funding would allow for the installation of air conditioning units to help cool classrooms throughout each of Oxford’s elementary schools.

The units would be installed within most of the schools’ classrooms to provide comfort to students and teachers.

Due to their large size, air conditioning units would not be installed in the gymnasiums of the schools, according to Throne.

“We are not putting air conditioning in the gyms… However, by adding air conditioning to the other parts of the building, it will help keep the temperatures down in the gyms,” Throne added.

At Oxford High School (OHS), the air handling unit which currently services the section of the school which houses the 300, 400 and 500 classrooms would be replaced.

The current unit within that section of the school was installed around 1998, when the building served as a middle school, and has not been updated since that time.

Outdated and threadbare carpeting found within these same corridors of OHS would also be replaced for safety purposes, according to Throne, along with worn carpet in Daniel Axford Elementary’s first and second floor hallways.

Vinyl flooring located within OHS’ cafeteria and the corridors surrounding it would also be replaced, according to Director of Maintenance Tony Sarkins. The current flooring in those areas was installed using the proceeds of a bond which was approved back in 2003.

“All that vinyl flooring in there… it’s worn out. Just like the carpeting, it’s had a lot of foot traffic,” said Sarkins.

Among these building system improvements would also be the replacement of damaged vertical blinds throughout the schools– specifically within classrooms located in Oxford Middle School (OMS), Lakeville Elementary, Leonard Elementary and Oxford Elementary.

Throne said that the replacement of these blinds would help block the sun and preserve energy used for air conditioning.

He also added that it would improve security for these classrooms.

Fire alarm systems located throughout the district’s schools would also be replaced, as they are nearing the end of their expected life span. The older systems are primarily located within OMS and Oxford Elementary.

“The fire alarm systems there are functional. We get them inspected yearly. They work and everything, but they’re nearing the end of their life cycle and they need to be brought up-to-date,” said Sarkins.

At OHS, the pool’s interior would be refinished. According to Sarkins, the pool plaster has not been refinished since the pool was first constructed using proceeds from a 2003 bond.

The air handling unit for the pool area would also be replaced.

Other building system updates would include the replacement of worn and broken deadbolts on restroom doors and include the replacement of outdated/inefficient hot water boilers.

Many of these building system updates would be completed on sections of the schools which were not replaced using proceeds from the last bond, which was passed in 2009.

Although proceeds of that bond went towards the replacement of some flooring, Throne said many areas, including the OHS cafeteria, were not addressed at that time.

“In general, (these updates) will provide for a much better educational environment, not only from a climate standpoint but from the security, cleanliness and aesthetic standpoints, as well,” said Throne. “We want to provide a high-quality learning environment for our students and these are major areas that directly impact that learning environment.”

As a recap, if the bond and sinking fund proposals pass in unison, district officials are hoping to spend at least $1.5 million on bus replacements, up to $500,000 on playground updates, $1.45 million on technology-related improvements, $3.35 million on roofing replacements, $8.2 million on parking lot and sidewalk replacement, and $12.6 million on building system replacements.

The cost of architectural, construction management and contingency fees are not included in these numbers.

If any funds remain after these projects were completed, officials say those dollars would be put towards additional buses for the district.

The proposed bond would keep the district’s current debt service tax rate steady at 7.9 mills, according to officials, although it would extend the length of repayment for the district’s bond debt, currently set to end in 2037, by three years.

The sinking fund millage was proposed by officials to work in unison with the bond to cover the total $30.4 million in existing needs.

A sinking fund millage is different from a bond issue in that the bond issue is a lump-sum amount the district borrows and pays back. The sinking fund millage is a limited property tax, using more of a pay-as-you-go method to fund building remodeling projects as they are completed.

For a homeowner whose property has a taxable value of $100,000, that 0.75 mills would equate to an additional $75 annually for five years.

For more information on the district’s bond and sinking fund proposals, visit


Throne also welcomes community members to contact him with questions, either by phone at (248) 969-5000 or by email at tim.throne@oxfordschools.org.


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