MEDFORD — The School District will begin holding a series of three community forums Tuesday on spending priorities for what is expected to be an austere budget year in 2009-10.

MEDFORD — The School District will begin holding a series of three community forums Tuesday on spending priorities for what is expected to be an austere budget year in 2009-10.

The theme of the meetings, set for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Washington Elementary School, is "Building the Budget Together."

"This is going to be a community conversation about the upcoming year and the future for our kids," said Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long. "We have heard from people saying they want to give input. We will capture that and consider it when we make our budget proposal."

The Medford district, with about 12,000 students, estimates it will have to slash about $9 million next year out of a $94 million budget, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2010.

"We are going to have to make some hard choices, and we'd much rather hear from the community on their concerns before we make any decisions," Long said.

District officials have calculated they can trim about $5.5 million in supplies and materials, extracurricular activities and a new employee compensation contract.

That leaves another $3.5 million the district will have to cut.

"In the last four years, we have reduced our class size," Long said. "That will probably be discussed. Changing the calendar (as a way to save money) I'm sure will come up."

This is the first time the district has held a community forum on a budget before a budget proposal was presented, Long said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.