With all the new residential building going on in Medford, what are the plans to either expand or add new elementary, middle and high schools?
— Julie K., Medford
Trust us, Julie. We’ve got our ears to the ground on this one.
Medford School District officials recognize the need for at least one new school in the next three to five years but are still figuring out the logistics.
“We just don’t know the exact timing right now or how it will be financed,” said district spokeswoman Natalie Hurd.
The type of school hinges on whether the district decides to move sixth-graders out of the elementary schools and into the middle schools — in which case, it would pursue a four middle-school model.
In a work session last October, administrators told the school board it was considering building a new middle school in northeast Medford and repurposing the Oakdale facility — Central Medford High School — into a fourth middle school, Medford Middle.
A recent demographic analysis, conducted by Portland-based Johnson Economics, indicated the district would be growing at a slower pace than had been projected in an earlier study. It also showed that new construction — the vast majority in east Medford — is causing Medford families to move around but is not necessarily attracting new families to the area, explained the district’s chief financial officer, Brad Earl.
Building a new elementary school would be cheaper, but if the district determines that sixth-graders would be better served in a middle-school setting, it will need a new middle school, and that’s more expensive, Earl said.
In the meantime, district officials are looking at possible short-term solutions, including relocating community partners and repurposing space, Hurd said.
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