Logos charter school wants city to open up classroom space
Charter school enrollment has skyrocketed, and the need for more classroom space in commercial districts might prompt the Medford City Council to amend its code Thursday.
Logos Public Charter School has seen a 200 percent increase, from 300 to 900 students, since it started in 2010 and is running out of room at its 9,500-square-foot campus.
Officials at Logos have asked the city to change its code to allow schools to be located in commercial areas of Medford rather than in just residential neighborhoods.
"It will open up a whole lot of new opportunities for us," said Joseph VonDoloski, executive director of Logos.
The council will take up the proposed ordinance change at 7 p.m. Thursday, in the council chambers at City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.
If the council approves the code amendment, Logos can begin negotiating for a new commercial space.
VonDoloski said he's already looked at a few locations but declined to specify where because negotiations haven't started.
Logos is currently in a commercial area on Earhart Street, just off Riverside Avenue south of downtown. VonDoloski said the building use is essentially grandfathered because it formerly was the site of an alternative high school for the Medford School District.
VonDoloski said Logos needs at least 12,000 square feet to handle current and expected enrollment.
The school caters to homeschooled students, providing support for parents and students to ensure they are meeting academic requirements.
While the students are principally taught at home, about 30 percent of Logos students take advantage of on-campus classes, particularly electives such as art and music, he said. The classes are offered one or two days a week by licensed teachers.
The Medford Planning Department has recommended that the city change its code to keep pace with the evolving needs of education.
Other charter schools in the area have undergone similar increases in enrollment.
All three local charter schools operate under the umbrella of the Medford School District but have individual contracts with area school boards. They have no boundaries, allowing them to enroll students from neighboring cities and counties.
Enrollment at Madrone Trail Public Charter School has tripled in the last seven years, from 75 students when it started in 2007 to 225 students today.
In its first year, VIBES Public Charter School at Kids Unlimited met its cap of 150 first- through third-grade students and has 14 kids on waiting lists. VIBES started the school year with 136 students after going through a lengthy and complicated process because the school is located on commercially zoned property.
Tom Cole, executive director of Kids Unlimited, 821 N. Riverside Ave., said the ability to place schools in commercial zones would remove a barrier for local educators and students.
"As the community changes and the needs of community education change, we need to have more flexibility," he said.
Jim Huber, the city's planning director, said the requests by VIBES and Logos prompted him to take a closer look at the city's code.
"I wondered if our code is out of date, and that's the conclusion I reached," he said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.