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Thursday, December 13, 2018

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ABOUT US

INTRODUCTION

 

Established in 1970, the Oxford City School District is a thriving school system operating in one of Alabama’s most economically successful cities. Situated in the retail hub of northeast Alabama, the Oxford School System has mirrored the growth of its founding city and has expanded from three schools serving 2,700 students in 1998 to six schools serving 4,200 students today. Even with its tremendous growth, Oxford City Schools has stayed true to its original roots as a small town school district that is the focal point of the communities it serves.

 

 DESCRIPTION OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT

 

Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in east Alabama, the Oxford City School System proudly serves Pre-K through 12th grade students. It ranks as the 19th largest out of 69 city school districts in the State of Alabama. The District’s schools are as follows:

 

Coldwater Elementary (grades K-4) serving the western portion of the district; 

DeArmanville Elementary (grades K-4) serving the eastern portion of the district; 

Oxford Elementary (grades Pre K-4) serving the central portion of the district;

C.E. Hanna Elementary serving all 5-6th grade students district-wide;

Oxford Middle serving all 7-8th grade students district-wide;

Oxford High serving all students grades 9-12 including the district’s Career Technical Center.

 

At approximately 1250 students, Oxford High School is the 48th largest high school in the State of Alabama. The district employs 530 faculty and staff members of which 300 are certified teachers. For fiscal year 2015 the system is operating under a 46 million dollar budget that includes local revenue from both a one-cent city-wide sales tax earmarked for education valued at approximately 5.2 million dollars and a similar county-wide sales tax generating approximately 2.8 million dollars annually. From these local tax dollars Oxford provides services to students beyond state funded programs, including 37 local teaching units distributed throughout the six schools. These revenues also fund one of the largest 1:1 technology initiatives in the state spanning elementary, middle and high school grades.

 

Fifty-three percent of the district’s budget is received from the State of Alabama’s public education Foundation Program, thirty-nine percent from local sources, and eight percent federal funds. For the past three fiscal years the system has seen a steady decline in state funds and a steady increase in local funding. This increase in local funds has allowed the Oxford School District to weather difficult economic times that have affected federal and state fund sources.

 

Geographically situated between Atlanta and Birmingham and traversedby several major highways including Interstate 20, the Oxford City School System is the most ethnically and linguistically diverse school district in its immediate geographic region. Twelve languages are spoken within the classrooms of the district with 321 of our students identified as English Language Learners. By far the largest represented language spoken in the district other than English is Spanish.

 

Demographically Oxford reflects the growing diversity of our nation, state and local communities: sixty-two percent of students served by the district are white, twenty-four percent black, nine percent Hispanic, and five percent of students have chosen not to identify with a racial or ethnic group. The district has also experienced a steady growth in the number of children who qualify for free and reduced lunches over the last decade. Sixty-four percentof students attending Oxford schools qualified for free and reduced lunch in 2013-2014 compared to 2003-2004 when the free and reduced lunch numbers were at thirty-seven percent.

 

Despite an increase in student poverty, Oxford’s schools have shown steady advances in achievement levels, which is contradictory to both national trends and research. The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), a non-profit non-partisan organization that analyzes all types of data in the state including educational trends, reports comparing achievement scores in all Alabama public schools in grades 3–8 have shown Oxford consistently among the top schools in the state over the past nine years in terms of achievement levels. More importantly, this data also shows  the district is closing the gap between white and black as well as free/reduced and paid lunch students when it comes to classroom achievement. This commitment to provide all students a quality education has paid dividends in the middle and high school grades as four 7th graders at Oxford Middle School have been recognized by Duke University for high achievement in the past three years and a record 112 of high school students passed an Advanced Placement exam with a qualifying score in 2014. Oxford also scores above the state average in all portions of the ACT college entrance exam which is now a component of our state’s assessment program. This success can be traced to a committed focus onclassroom instruction, teacher development, and support from all levels of leadership.

 

As part of this focus on classroom instruction, Oxford assembles a Curriculum Cabinet comprised of teachers from across the district representing multiple disciplines and grades. This Cabinet meets periodically throughout the school year to discuss and make recommendations regarding curricular and instructional practices. The district also allocates two days of in-service training for whole school vertical alignment training that brings teachers from all schools together to discuss curricular and instructional practices and the progression of learning expectations from Pre K through the senior high level. This collaboration has been a benefit to both cross curricular and vertical grade level planning.

 

In addition to the Curriculum Cabinet, the system also has district-wide and school based Continuous Improvement Planning Teams, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), Technology Professional Learning Groups (PLGs), and Instructional Rounds involving Board Members, Central Office staff, teachers, parents, students, and visitors from other districts. All of these efforts are an integral part of the dynamic learning system that exists in the school district and contribute to the successful learning environment at each school. Oxford’s Continuous Improvement Planning (CIP) process is considered a strength of this district. It encompasses system-wide, school-wide, and classroom based components that involve community members, staff, and high school students in setting goals for our schools and school system. Recently, Oxford was recognized by the State Superintendent of Education regarding Credit Advancement at the secondary level and for pioneering a school calendar that includes flexible professional development time for teachers. This modified calendar was developed by teacher representatives from each school and has been positively received by our community at-large and presented as an exemplary practice for professional development at the School Superintendents of Alabama annual fall conference in 2013.

 

Oxford is atypical among city districts in Alabama in that it serves as the home district for students residing in another incorporated city. In addition to students living within the city limits of Oxford (population 21,232), students living in Hobson City (population 766), which is the third oldest African American city in the United States, attend Oxford schools. Oxford operates one school, C.E. Hanna Elementary, within the incorporated limits of Hobson City. The district’s lines also extend south of Calhoun County into Talladega County, and Oxford on occasion educates a small number of students from Cleburne County due to boundaries of the Talladega National Forest.

 

The governing body of the Oxford City School System is the six-member Oxford City School Board. Members are appointed by the City Council of Oxford and serve staggered five-year terms. Board members by law are required to attend mandated ethics training and to log six hours of State approved training including roles and responsibilities, finance and legal matters. Additionally, Board members participate in planning sessions, District Continuous Improvement Planning meetings with teachers and staff, and are invited periodically to participate in school based instructional rounds. Three members of the Governing Board have been recognized as All-State School Board Members for their service to children in the last eight years.

 

The school district is further enhanced by the Oxford City Schools Education Foundation, a non-profit foundation serving the teachers and children in the Oxford district. Since its inception the Foundation has given over $400,000 to improve the quality of education in Oxford’s classrooms. These funds have purchased technology, classroom supplies and educational opportunities for students of all ages.

 

During the past three years the Oxford City School District has made a tremendous financial and instructional investment in digital technologies for instructional use. The district manages the largest 1:1 technology initiative in northeast Alabama. Over 2,000 students in grades 7–12 have a system issued device to facilitate learning regardless of time or place. Students at C.E. Hanna Elementary also utilize a 1:1 school based technology initiative in preparation for issuance at Oxford Middle School. Fourth graders in all three K-4 schools will have a 1:1 laptop to student ratio by the end of the 2014-2015 school year and K-3 students have access to tablets for learning at a one device per two student ratio. Recognizing that the device is a tool for learning, the district spent several years preparing teachers through staff development and training. Teachers had one full year of laptop usage district wide before the first laptop was issued to a student. The district also employs five Instructional Partners and one district wide technology specialist to enhance professional development and instructional strategies within classrooms.

 

Working in concert with the Small Business Department of Jacksonville State University the district recently “branded” its digital learning initiative “Connect.” Throughout the district banners, signs, shirts, and laptop bags bearing the logo appear to both remind and announce that Oxford students, staff, and community are connected to each other and the world at large through a powerful student centered learning environment.

 

SYSTEM’S PURPOSE

 

Operating in the final year of its most recent Strategic Plan, that involved input from over 1,000 stakeholders including students, parents, staff, and community members, the Oxford School District is a reflection of the core values of its stakeholder groups.

 

OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS VISION STATEMENT

Our vision is to be the leader in all aspects of education. From the time a child enters kindergarten until graduation we want to provide the best instruction, extra-curricular activities, facilities and services enabling our students to become productive successful citizens.

 

This commitment is visible in every classroom in every school. A pinpoint focus on instructional strategies, supplementary services, counseling and continuous improvement permeates every action taken by the district. Our facilities are some of the best in the southeastern United States thanks to the Board of Education and civic leadership’s commitment to having the best learning environment possible. Students in all schools have the opportunity to enjoy many types of extra-curricular activities from elementary choir to robotics and athletics. In all cases the facilities and extra-curricular activities exist to accentuate the learning experience for the students served by the system.

 

Oxford’s mission statement and beliefs were re-affirmed by an overwhelming majority of stakeholders in 2010. During the process of constructing the plan, stakeholder groups were given an opportunity to evaluate, comment, and recommend changes based on current data to our mission statement and beliefs.

 

OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of the Oxford City School system, the focal point of a growing, diverse community, is to ensure the academic success of all students through a student-centered system of individualized instruction, highly qualified staff, exemplary facilities, and effective use of all resources.

 

Based on the response of stakeholder groups, the Beliefs of the stakeholders of our district are as follows:

 

1.         Family is a primary influence of a child’s development.

2.         Each child deserves an environment that is safe and conducive to

            learning.

3.         Each child has a gift and, afforded the opportunity, is capable of success.

4.         Learning is a lifelong process.

5.         Character development is essential.

6.         Each child deserves equal opportunity.

7.         Higher expectations yield higher results.

8.         Youth of today are the portrait of tomorrow.

9.         Unlocking minds to explore and investigate is the key to learning.

10.       Knowledge is the key to informed decision-making.

 

Furthermore, Oxford’s stakeholders listed their priorities as follows:

 

1.         Classroom resources for teachers

2.         Technology for student use

3.         Low pupil/teacher ratio

4.         Modern facilities

5.         Fine Arts electives

6.         Extra-curricular offerings

 

In each case the district has responded with physical resources and professional development for teachers, the largest technology initiative in our geographic region, over three dozen local teaching units for our schools, an aggressive building and renovation campaign on each campus, and an expansion of Fine Arts, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), athletics and other extra-curricular offerings impacting all schools.

 

NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS AND AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT

 

With the overhaul of the State student assessment system during the spring of 2014, Oxford, like all Alabama school districts, has had to adjust to different tests and new accountability measures. During the final years of the old assessment system Oxford was consistently ranked high in both raw scores and in closing the gap between minority and white as well as between free and paid lunch students. In the final Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT) analysis by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) in 2013, Oxford was ranked #20 in overall achievement and #3 in gap closure out of 136 systems. Oxford’s graduation rate, tied to the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, was also consistently among the state’s highest systems.

 

In the spring of 2014, students in grades 3-8 were assessed using the ACT ASPIRE for the first time on mathematics, reading, science, and writing. As part of the new assessment system, students in grade 11 were administered the ACT College Entrance Exam for the first time as a class. Preliminary data in the baseline year indicated Oxford students to be performing well in all grades and subjects. Initial results of the inaugural administration of the ACT to all 11th graders in the State of Alabama revealed Oxford High School with a composite score of 20.0 compared to the state average score of 18.3. Also, sixty-five percent of Oxford High’s 11th grade students were scored as college ready compared to forty-eight percent of students state-wide.

 

For the past three years the Oxford School District has also been a part of Alabama’s Advanced Placement (AP) Initiative. This Initiative has as its purpose increasing the rigor of instruction and enrollment in higher level courses in grades 6-12 through pre-AP and AP course offerings. It includes professional development for teachers and time for collaboration among schools demonstrating best practices. Oxford High School’s qualifying scores on Advanced Placement exams have more than doubled in the past three years with 112 students achieving a three or better on AP tests in the spring of 2014.

 

Going forward the district will continue to gather data as part of the new assessment and accountability system. As baselines are compared to future years, improving achievement levels based on the benchmarks will no doubt be marked as improvement strategies.

 

Hand in glove with its excellent instructional program, the district has greatly improved its already impressive technology infrastructure over the past three years. Currently one-hundred percent of classrooms, libraries, labs, and offices are connected to Local Area Networks. There are approximately 4,900 computers for student use in the district of which 3,800 are five years or less in age. In 2013 all students in grades 9-12 were issued a laptop for school and home use. In 2014 all seventh and eighth graders were issued a device as well. Current plans have fifth and sixth graders receiving a laptop in the fall of 2016. As with any initiative of this scope, challenges have presented themselves and our overall management and execution, including classroom instruction, will be an area of focus in the foreseeable future.

 

Additionally, Oxford has gained state-wide attention in the area of innovation. For the past three years the district has operated under an innovative calendar that decreased the number of required student days from 180 to 173 and increased the number of professional development days for teachers and support staff. Individual content studies, system-wide vertical alignment meetings, and school based professional development created by this flexible calendar have added to the quality of instruction and an overall improvement of student achievement. Parents, students, and teachers provided input on the calendar’s configuration and were in support of its implementation. Representatives from the business community spoke regarding the calendar at a public meeting and voiced their support for an extended summer for students and meaningful training for teachers. It has proven to be popular with all stakeholder groups and has been a positive showpiece for our district.

 

In the realm of innovative practices Oxford is also pioneering Credit Advancement at the high school level. Beginning with 9th grade, students may receive credit for English or mathematics and advance to the next higher course by way of a qualifying End of Course Assessment score or qualifying ACT score. Approximately forty students have advanced to a higher Language Arts course for the 2014-2015 school year. Refining this process has been targeted as an area of focus for high school and district level instructional staff as data is collected from the initial group of students.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

The City of Oxford and the Oxford City School District have an ideal relationship and partnership in serving the stakeholders of the city and school system. Responding to the demands placed on the school district by a rapidly expanding populous the city passed a one-cent sales tax for education in 2010. This tax, generating approximately 5.2 million dollars annually, has been used to support Oxford’s students in a time of decreasing state funding for education. In 2007 the city passed a $26,000,000 bond issue for construction at Oxford High School. The funds were used to build a modern version of the Oxford College Building (operated on this site 1867–1900), and a new Oxford High School at no cost to the district.

 

Periodically, the city and school board meet to discuss future plans and programs for the district. Achievement levels, programs and facilities are updated and discussed at length. A mutual sense of purpose is re-affirmed during these joint public work sessions.

 

The district also surveys stakeholders to assess opinions and thoughts regarding the school system and to solicit input on areas such as the school calendar. At the time of the last survey data, ninety percent of parents responded positively about safety and quality of instruction in the district. Cleanliness of facilities, teacher quality, and technology available for student use were also noted as areas of strength in all schools.

 


P.O. Box 7670 | Oxford, AL 36203 | 256-241-3140

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