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Renovated grade schools open doors next month

MEDFORD — For two and a half years, Jackson and Roosevelt elementary school students have been waiting by the curb for a big yellow bus to take them to a school outside of their own neighborhoods, said Phil Long, Medford schools superintendent.

But this year's holiday hustle and bustle is all about preparing new classrooms for the kids' return on January 7. Students can once again walk to school now that the $26 million construction project is complete, Long said.

Jackson Elementary School on West Jackson Street and Roosevelt Elementary School on Lindley Street were renovated and reconstructed by Batzer Construction of Medford.

Jackson will now front on Summit Street. And Roosevelt will face Queen Anne Avenue. The sister schools were originally built at the same time nearly 100 years ago.

One of the wings at each school was saved. But the rest of the old buildings were demolished.

"The cafeterias, which were built in 1996, were incorporated into the new design," Long said.

Both schools received a $13 million remodel as part of Medford School District's $189 million bond construction package. The measure was passed by voters in November 2006, and the law says the money can be used for no other purpose than school construction.

During the construction phase, Roosevelt students attending kindergarten through the third grade were bused to Hoover Elementary School. Students in the fourth through sixth grades were sent to Hedrick Middle School. Kindergarten through third-grade students at Jackson Elementary School were bused to the old Westside Elementary School outside of Jacksonville. The fourth through sixth-graders studied in an annex at McLoughlin Middle School, and "were the only ones who could still walk to school," said Long.

Long praised the parents for their support and participation over the past two-and-a-half years as their children attended schools outside their neighborhoods. He said adherence to tight construction deadlines and an even tighter budget helped all six construction projects come in on schedule and either on or under budget.

The school board will make a final tour of Roosevelt and Jackson elementary schools before the floors are waxed and desks are moved in, Long said.

"But the move will occur over Christmas," he said.

In addition to Jackson and Roosevelt, Oak Grove and Lone Pine elementary schools were renovated and partially reconstructed. They opened in September.

North Medford High School also is undergoing renovation which includes a new media center, a renovated auditorium and cafeteria and new landscaping.

"It's an extreme make-over, is what it is," said Long.

A new South Medford High School is taking form on a tract of land at Columbus and Cunningham avenues.

"That (school) will be open for registration in August, and for students in September," Long said.