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Rationale behind Oakdale school zone scenarios explained

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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune New Medford middle school being reconstructed out of Central Medford High School on S Oakdale Avenue.
Parents and Medford school officials created four possibilities for where elementary school students could attend middle school

At a glance, the four proposed attendance zone scenarios determined by a Medford School District committee look similar, with shades of maroon, orange and green indicating boundaries for who will attend three middle schools.

But the rationale behind those zones present a much more complicated picture.

“We know that we’re not going to please everybody — because somebody has to move — but we want to make sure we can stand by that analysis and say, ‘Hey, here’s how we worked though this, and hopefully this makes the most sense,’” said Ron Havniear, director of facilities and leadership development, who has worked with the attendance zone committee.

Ahead of the Gallery Walks, the district posted the four scenarios on its website, each accompanied by an explanation for why the boundaries were drawn the way they were, as well as how the new attendance zones would impact the individual schools’ student populations.

Though each proposed attendance zone looks different, the attendance zoning committee tried to look for a way for each middle school to have a roughly equal number of students; an equitable racial and ethnic balance; have as many students stay together transitioning from one school to the next, and make sure the community had a say in determining the attendance zone scenario.

Havniear admitted that “it’s been challenging.”

“There’s a lot of different considerations. It is emotional for people when you start talking about moving kids to different schools,” he said.

The information posted online and presented at the Gallery Walks provides a brief rationale for why the boundaries were drawn the way they were.

Scenario B

Scenario B is meant to keep students together throughout their K-12 experience and “provide for a fairly equitable distribution” of students “from all backgrounds” throughout three middle schools.

“That’s the light and fluffy version, but the nuts and bolts of it — we wanted to streamline the feeder patterns so every elementary school stays together the whole time,” said Aaron Mueller, a parent who helped draw this scenario. “McLoughlin has a 60%-40% split (of who attends North and South high schools), but that split is still right along the elementary school boundaries.”

Scenario C

Scenario C aims to keep the elementary school students who are currently set to attend Hedrick and McLoughlin middle schools to attend those institutions, despite boundary adjustments to make way for Oakdale.

“The schools going to Hedrick (in this scenario), they currently go there, and the current schools we have going to McLoughlin (in this scenario), they currently go there,” Vicki Robinson, a committee member who helped draw this boundary. “So, these eight schools, they’re not going to see anything different.”

The eight elementary schools in Scenario C that could remain in their assigned middle school despite the addition of Oakdale Middle School include: Roosevelt, Lincoln, Kennedy, Lone Pine, Howard, Jackson, Griffin Creek and Oak Grove.

The elementary schools that would attend Oakdale under Scenario C are: Jacksonville, Jefferson, Washington, Ruch, Wilson and Hoover.

In drawing option C, Robinson said, the committee considered a broad representation of geographic areas within the district — Jacksonville to the west, Hoover on the east, Wilson on the north and Jefferson and Washington being centrally located.

“(In Scenario C), Oakdale becomes a melting pot of a bunch of different schools,” Robinson said.

Scenario T1

Scenario T1 took the populations of three of the largest elementary schools with the “lowest amount of poverty” and applied one of those populations to each middle school. The three elementary schools with the lowest poverty rate are Lone Pine (to McLoughlin), Abraham Lincoln (to Hedrick), and Hoover (to Oakdale).

“Part of the (attendance zone committee’s) charter was to balance demographics,” said Christy Clark, a parent who sits on the committee. “They wanted to make each of the three middle schools equitable, socio-economically. They didn’t want to have one school that was really high poverty and one with really low poverty.”

Scenario T2

Scenario T2 was created “using proximity to the school location” as the main factor to draw those boundaries.

“We were not allowed to adjust the elementary boundaries; so, we wanted to make sure that the elementary schools that were closest to (a) middle school were our guiding principle, so we’re not asking kids to get on the bus for a half hour to drive past one middle school to go to another,” said Chris Miller, a parent committee member who helped draw that scenario. “We want to make it as convenient as possible.”

Scenario T2 also aims to keep as many kindergartners together all the way through high school.

Havniear acknowledged all the scenarios come with “some disruptions” in which Hedrick and McLoughlin populations are “going to have to re-adjust.”

“It’s for the good in the end, but it’s not going to make it any easier when we tell people, ‘Hey, you’re now going to go to this new school,’” he said.

During an interview, Miller said he thought the scenario he worked on, T2, was the best scenario compared to the other three. He believes other parents might hold the same view about the scenario they’re presenting, but that is not to say the disagreements are personal.

“We want to have those ideas not existing in dramatic tension, but existing in a developmental tension, so we can see, ‘Here’s what this group came up with and here’s why,’” Miller said. “All keeping in mind the fact that we want what's best for the students.”

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or kopsahl@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.