The Medford School District will work to ease transfers for students wishing to attend Ruch School but will not immediately enact open enrollment, the school board decided Monday.
The Applegate Partners Promoting Local Education, a group that previously lobbied the board to start targeted open enrollment for Ruch School, said it approved of a proposal by Superintendent Phil Long to ease transfer rules for the school to increase enrollment.
Students who live in the Medford School District's boundaries but haven't attended a public school in 180 days automatically will be accepted as transfers to Ruch, according to the proposal, as will current charter school students wishing to attend Ruch.
The proposal was created through discussions between Long and APPLE, a group of Applegate Valley community members who have worked for months to come up with solutions for keeping the school open.
"It's a partial compromise, but it has major advantages," said Jim Horner, an APPLE member. "I think we feel very good about these solutions."
The APPLE group had come to the board in October asking that it enact targeted open enrollment for Ruch.
The board has discussed closing the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade campus during budget discussions in the past.
The proposal by Long suggests that the school will remain open at least through the 2014-15 school year and that it will keep its current principal, Julie Hill, provided major funding setbacks don't take place.
Should major cuts need to happen, Ruch School will be treated like other elementary schools that must make cuts during a budget crisis, Long said.
"They just want to be treated like any other school," said board chairman Jeff Thomas, who supported the proposal.
The board gave informal support to Long to move forward with the Ruch proposal, but did not take a formal vote.
APPLE plans to market Ruch School as a campus with a place-based learning approach that connects students with nature, and uses community connections to improve programs for students.
Long said that as the community markets Ruch School, it should seek to increase enrollment from its current 122 students to somewhere between 150 and 170.
Students wishing to transfer to Ruch but attending school at another Medford campus or attending Three Rivers School District would be considered on a case-by-case basis, using the district's present transfer policy.
The Ruch principal also would have the final say in accepting all transfers, with the option to deny students based on space or discipline issues.
Members of the APPLE group in the audience Monday evening seemed unanimous in their support of the proposal.
"We did a lot of work and a lot of research, and we found a positive path forward," said APPLE member Matt Epstein.
Long's proposal allows the board to still consider enacting open enrollment for the next school year, a decision that must be made before March 1.
Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or email@example.com.