Opinion: Passing bond referendum will improve Oxford schools

Posted on Sep 26 2017 - 8:00am by Jaz Brisack

Oxford’s public school system has earned its rank of No. 1 in the state. Today, we have an opportunity to reaffirm our community’s commitment to quality public education and ensure that our schools continue to have the funding they need to function.

From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., citizens can vote on the school district’s bond referendum at the Oxford Conference Center, which is located on Sisk Avenue, across Highway 7. Don’t forget to bring a photo ID.

If approved, the referendum will authorize Oxford to issue $38 million worth of municipal bonds. These bonds — which are sold like stocks to private investors and must eventually be repaid with interest — would pay for a new elementary school and many other much-needed improvements.

Our existing elementary school is too small to accommodate Oxford’s constantly expanding population, and the other schools are also overcrowded.

The increase in funding would also allow the district to expand special education, continue to provide art and music education, maintain state-of-the-art athletic facilities and enable Bramlett Elementary School to become fully ADA compliant, among other things.

For years, the state of Mississippi has been remiss on the subject of public education. The 1890 constitution failed to make school attendance mandatory, which allowed landowners to force the children of their sharecropping tenants to work in the fields during the academic year.

It wasn’t until 1982 that attendance became required, and the state legislature continues to hamper public schools by underfunding them and then seizing control when they underperform.

Oxford cannot expect the state legislature to provide us the resources we need to maintain our schools. To make sure local children have the opportunities to succeed, join me in voting “YES” to the bond issue today.

Jaz Brisack is a junior general studies major from Oxford.