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Medford students cope with earlier schedule

Kelly Ramirez toted her sleepy 15-month-old daughter, still dressed in panda bear-motif footed pajamas, on her hip as she dropped off her first-grade son, Mayson, for the first day of school at Medford's Jefferson Elementary.

"He was so excited," Ramirez said. "He got up before Mommy ever had to get him up."

Not everyone in the Medford School District, however, acclimated as quickly to the earlier start for school — 7:50 a.m. this year compared to about 8 a.m. last year.

"I got in a little trouble because I didn't want to wake up," announced Jefferson first-grader Andrew Coke. "I feel pretty good now."

The early start for elementary schools is part of districtwide schedule changes intended to curtail operating costs by about $950,000 this year.

Jefferson was one of a dozen Medford elementary schools that began their school year Tuesday.

Oak Grove Elementary students return to school today and Lone Pine Elementary resumes on Thursday because of delays caused by construction.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors at North Medford High School, juniors and seniors at South Medford High School and eighth-graders at Hedrick and McLoughlin middle schools start school today.

On Tuesday, Jefferson students formed tidy lines behind signs displaying their teacher's name at the school's playground before teachers appeared to guide them to their new classroom.

"Dylan is my early bird; Cameron is not an early riser," said Jody Davis of her fourth-grade and first-grade sons. "Cameron woke up on his own this morning I think because of excitement. Tomorrow will definitely be more difficult."

Elementary students now start their day at 7:50 a.m. and adjourn at 2:20 p.m., a 10-minute gain in instructional minutes each day to make up for a loss of 10 instructional days over the school year.

Secondary pupils will see their school day grow by 20 minutes, beginning class at 8:40 a.m. at McLoughlin and 8:35 a.m. at Hedrick and the high schools. Middle school students end their day at 3:30 p.m., while high school students stay in class until 3:56 p.m.

The district eliminated all early-release days, previously on Wednesdays and at the end of the mid-quarter and quarter, and will close schools one Monday nearly every month.

Jefferson parents Tuesday were nonchalant about the schedule changes.

"I usually drop my son off at this time anyway because I have to go to work," said Lisa Sullivan, who was dropping off her second-grade son, Gage, at Jefferson Tuesday.

Jefferson first-grader ToriLynn Hall had no problem rising 10 minutes earlier, said her mother, Ashleigh Hall. She is normally an early riser, Ashleigh Hall said.

"The Mondays off don't really affect me because I work from home, but I think it will affect a lot of parents," Ramirez said.

Nicholle Zamores said she would have to find child care for her fourth-grade daughter, Aliya, during Monday school closures and during Wednesday afternoons, but she didn't anticipate it would be any more difficult to find or pay for than last year.

"They got so many in-service days and holidays last year it won't make a difference," Zamores said. "When I went to school, we didn't get that much time off."

To view the Medford district's school year calendar, visit www.medford.k12.or.us and click on the school calendar link under "Frequently Asked Questions."

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

ToriLynn Hall gets a hug from mom Ashleigh Hall as the first-grader waits in line Tuesday to enter Shellie Schaan's class at Jefferson Elementary School. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo - Bob Pennell