Begun in February 2012, the $2.5 million first phase required a complete gutting of the school to allow installation of new plumbing, wiring, floors, ceilings, paint, reworked offices, new cabinetry throughout and a new brick façade.
A second phase — expected to begin in the fall — will expand the school’s media center. That project will add around $1 million to the overall cost.
“It’s stretched a little past when we’d hoped it would be finished,” said Roy Bennett, student services coordinator for Oxford schools, noting that bad weather slowed the project somewhat. “But we’re very, very close.”
Eric Burrage, the school system's director of operations, said the largest portion of the project was in the lunchroom. A new stage was built in back of the room and the serving line was moved from out in the open lunchroom into a back area, creating more room for lunch tables.
The circled drive in front of the school is a new addition as well, as is the front entrance with two sets of locking doors and security cameras. The parking lot was reworked to add new spaces, and throughout the school, old 1950s glass-block windows were replaced with energy-efficient units.
Oxford schools bought Coldwater Elementary from the Calhoun County School system for $1.6 million in 2003, transferring around 500 students that lived in the annexed portions of Coldwater and Bynum into the Oxford school system.
Built in 1950, Coldwater Elementary has been added onto several times but the outcome was unsuited to Oxford’s growing needs, Burrage said.
“You could see where it was like 1950, 1961, 1972. Several add-ons throughout,” Burrage said.
More than just new paint and floors, each classroom received state-of-the-art technology such as smart boards, digital projectors and headset microphones, meant to make it easier for students to hear teachers and reduce voice strain.
The renovation was part of a $29.8 million 5-year capital improvement plan approved by the Oxford Board of Education last year.
Another Oxford school construction project, the 35,000 square-foot career technology building at Oxford High, is expected to cost $4.4 million and is nearing a start date, Burrage said.
School administrators recently met with several career technology teachers and a few slight changes were made to the plans.
“Not anything that would increase the price, just moving some things around,” Burrage said.
Oxford Superintendent Jeff Goodwin said the Coldwater community has long been proud of its school and the investment was made to improve the learning environment for the students and staff.
“We feel like this renovation will give them even more of a reason to be proud of their facility and their school, and it can continue to be the center of the community and a major part of our school district,” Goodwin said.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.