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Medford selects new chairman for school board

The Medford School Board has selected Jeff Thomas as board chairman for the 2012-13 school year.

Thomas, who had spent the past school year as vice chairman, traded positions with Paulie Brading, who had been chairwoman only since last year.

"I believe Jeff Thomas is the person that can lead the board to the next level," said Brading, in an email announcing the switch. "I believe the fact that Mr. Thomas has two daughters attending Medford public schools will add a different and welcome dimension to the school board."

Thomas, the general manager of Medford's Connecting Point computer store, was elected to a four-year term in 2009.

The board voted unanimously Monday in favor of Thomas becoming the new board chairman.

"I didn't lobby for it, I didn't ask for it, but I am excited that the board chose me," said Thomas. "I just want to do what's best for the board."

During board meetings this year, Thomas has been quick to state his beliefs, even if they conflict with district administration or other board members.

He acknowledged that with his new role as board chairman, he will work hard to communicate the board's full range of opinions, but also won't back down if he feels a position hasn't been represented.

"When you're the chair, you do have to be different," said Thomas. "I can't be as vocal on some issues as I would otherwise, probably."

With no terms expiring this year, the board will retain all seven members as it moves into the next school year.

Thomas said he hopes the board can use its retreat later this summer to work on strengthening communication with each other, and tightening up a list of board goals set last fall.

The board goals are to increase communication within the district and community, eliminate the achievement gap between traditional students and those learning English or in special education, increase the high school graduation rate and extend student learning beyond proficiency.

"Right now we have some great goals," said Thomas. "I'm hoping we will refine the board goals and have some targets we want to hit."

The board will resume meetings in late August.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.