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MSD to break ground on new middle school

The $30 million project will transform the old Central Medford High in time for 2023-24 school year
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune The Medford school property on Oakdale Avenue that was Central High School will become a new middle school.

The Medford School District will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to celebrate the beginning of an estimated $30 million renovation of its Oakdale property that will yield for the district a third middle school in time for the 2023-24 school year.

The ceremony will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on the front lawn of the building at 815 S. Oakdale Ave., which had been used recently to house administrative offices but in the past has served as Medford High School (1931-1967), Medford Mid High School (1967-1986), South Medford High School (1986-2010) and Central Medford High School (2012-2020). The groundbreaking will include a short ceremony and tour, and a video featuring alumni will be shown.

Ashland-based Adroit Construction Company is handling the renovation, which the district will cover through “Full, Faith & Credit Obligations or federal COVID funds, or a combination of the two,” according to Superintendent Bret Champion. The impact on the general fund budget will be about $1.65 million per year, but according to Brad Earl, the district's assistant superintendent of operations, that's preferable to asking voters to approve a bond, an endeavor that's proven perilous here.

Once completed, the 252,000-square-foot building will allow the district to place all of its sixth- through eighth-grade students into a middle school and, according to estimates, delay by at least 10 years the need for another elementary school. Approximately 850 to 900 students will attend the school, the vast majority of those in ground-level classrooms.

Currently, there are 1,089 sixth-graders in the district who do not attend charter schools, and only 245 of those attend either McLoughlin Middle School, Hedrick Middle School or Ruch Outdoor Community School, a K-8 institution. The rest are squeezed into 12 of the district's 13 elementary schools — every sixth-grader in the Oak Grove Elementary zone attends a middle school — or are enrolled in Medford Online Academy.

During the 2020-21 school year the future middle school housed a little less than 100 district staffers, including Champion and Earl, in addition to a YMCA day care and two classes from the Phoenix-Talent School District that were displaced by the Almeda fire.

Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@rosebudmedia.com.