Melissa Tacchi, Senior Staff Writer

After receiving confirmation the construction of the new Talawanda High School is behind schedule, the school board has announced the opening cannot occur until October 2011 at the earliest.

According to Holli Morrish, community relations spokesperson for the Talawanda Board of Education, the district has discussed the possibility of transferring the students from the old high school to the new one over a holiday break.

“The school board is talking about making the transition over Thanksgiving or winter break,” Morrish said. “We need to take into account the time required to furnish the new building, so a final decision has not been made yet.”

According to Morrish, the reasoning behind the delayed opening is nothing out of the ordinary and should not be of great concern.

“From the very beginning the construction timeline was extremely aggressive in hopes of opening in the fall,” Morrish said. “In order to meet that goal, everything had to be perfect, including the weather, so that is why it is taking a little longer.”

In preparation for the opening, Oxford City Council implemented temporary sidewalks along State Route 27 so students can walk to school, according to superintendent Phil Cagwin.

“Prior to the sidewalks being put in, there was no safe way for students to walk to the new school, so when we started construction the city government felt it made sense to take care of that issue,” Cagwin said.

Cagwin said the sidewalks have been funded by the city government and lead right up to the entrance of the new high school. However, the most direct line from Chestnut Street to the new school would be along the train tracks.

“The property along the train tracks is private property,” Cagwin said. “In order to put up fences or any sort of protection around the tracks, the owners would have to get permission from the railroad company.”

Because the City of Oxford owns the sidewalks, the placement was the only immediate action that could be done to ensure students a safe walk to school, he said.

For Miami University junior Jacqueline Orr, temporary sidewalks are insufficient. Three years ago, Orr lost a friend to the Long Island Railroad after she slipped and fell on the rail. The high school student had been looking for a faster route home from school when the accident occurred. “It was a freak accident that could have easily been prevented if fences had been put up around the area,” Orr said. “The issue of students taking the faster route to school across the train tracks needs to be taken with the highest regard in order to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.”