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Old administrative offices find new life

Oxford preschool teacher Jean Popa traces student Lucas Ames. Watching the fun is classmate Brody Moore (left). Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
September 15, 2010 - A building that was once filled with the sounds of clicking keyboards and ringing telephones is now teeming with the sounds of small children laughing and playing.

Last week, the Oxford school district's childcare and preschool programs opened for business in their new digs at 105 Pontiac St., which is adjacent to Oxford Elementary.

"Everybody's been really excited about it," said Denise Fourace, director of the Oxford Early Childhood Learning Center. "Teachers are always excited about getting brand new classrooms and seeing what they can do with them."

The building used to house the school district's central administration and board of education offices.

But thanks to the $32.735 million bond voters approved last November, the district was able to purchase downtown Oxford's historic Meriam building for $785,000 in order to move its main offices there.

This freed up the old central offices to become the new childcare/preschool center.

A total of $468,191 in bond money was budgeted to renovate the old administrative building for its new function.

When all is said and done, the building will house between 140 and 150 kids ranging in age from birth to 5 years old, according to Fouracre.

Childcare and preschool programs formerly housed at Daniel Axford, Lakeville and Clear Lake elementaries as well as local churches, such as First Baptist of Oxford and Thomas United Methodist, are now in one central location.

"We're really excited about being together," Fouracre said. "By having all the programs together, that in and of itself will save us money because there will be a lot of collaborating between classrooms.

"Instead of seven sets of unit blocks (wooden toy blocks), we may only need three sets and we'll share them between the programs . . . In the long run, I think it will be a lot cheaper for us when ordering our supplies and getting new equipment."

A new, fenced-in playground for the facility is expected to be installed later this week.

Fouracre noted this $30,000 addition is being paid for using federal, not district or bond, monies from the Head Start program.

The Oxford Early Childhood Learning Center is planning to conduct an open house sometime during the last week of September.

When an exact time and date is scheduled, it will be published in the Oxford Leader and on the school district's website www.oxfordschools.org.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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