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School priorities

Local editorials

Medford district should look for savings in administration

We were a bit surprised last week to read that the Medford School District hopes to fill two administrative positions that came open through a shuffle of existing staff.

The two positions, assistant principals at McLoughlin Middle School and South Medford High School, came open when the administrators holding those jobs were promoted to fill newly vacant principal positions at the district's two middle schools.

We are not among those who think schools are top-heavy and we recognize the incredible challenge and workload that school administrators face. That being said and given the state of public education financing today, we think the school district Budget Committee and School Board should look long and hard at any proposal to fill administrative positions.

Revenue shortfalls at the state level have forced Medford school officials to cut &

36;7.4 million from the budget in the past two years, eliminating more than 90 positions in the process. While it's still unclear what kind of cuts the district will face in 2003-04, the estimates range from &

36;5.4 million to &

36;7.1 million.

Administrative positions are important. But teaching positions are essential and the Medford district already has class sizes that are far too large. Keeping two administrative positions open could save four to six teaching positions.

— That would send a message to district employees and taxpayers that everything possible is being done to keep resources in the classroom. That's a message that would pay dividends for years to come.

Let's clear the water

Several decades ago, local agencies began work on a goal of making Bear Creek fishable and swimmable by the end of the century.

Lots of progress has been made, but even so, few would allow their kids to wade or swim in the polluted stream, and anglers are rarely spotted along the urban banks that carry water north to Bear Creek's confluence with the Rogue River.

But things are looking up. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is developing targets for bacteria and water temperature in the creek. Targets will be issued in six to nine months and creek users will have to show how they'll meet the goals. A group of local agencies ' nonprofit and governmental ' are studying not just the creek, but the entire watershed in hopes of developing a plan that will help the creek run colder and cleaner.

Let's hope those combined forces make some progress. Bear Creek is important ' not only for irrigation and future recreation ' because it is or could be an attractive addition to creekside communities. Among other things, it is the backbone of the Bear Creek Greenway project, a bike and hiking path that would run from Ashland to Central Point.

Bear Creek is the center of the Bear Creek valley. We all have a stake in its future.