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An opportunity for change

Editorials

The Medford School Board should examine the district's culture now

The departure of the Medford School District's new superintendent after less than a year on the job presents board members and administrators with a challenge, but also with an opportunity. We urge them to take full advantage.

The challenge is to select an interim superintendent to run the district while the School Board searches for a permanent replacement, and simultaneously to get the district through another tight budget year without too much damage to educational quality.

The opportunity is to thoroughly examine the district's culture and find ways to improve it.

Dick Gregory, the departing superintendent, cited an entrenched district culture that clashed with his more open, collaborative leadership style and as yet unspecified problems as reasons for his decision to resign.

There were more surprises in this job than anyone could ever have imagined, Gregory said, but he declined to explain what they were.

He should do so. More important, the School Board should formally ask him to do so.

— Board members and district administrators have the opportunity, while Gregory is still here, to pick his brain, to ask him to work with them to prevent the next superintendent from encountering the same frustrations he apparently did. As an outsider with decades of experience, Gregory should be able to provide invaluable advice and assistance as the district makes the transition from old, entrenched ways of doing things to new ways ' ways that many in the district evidently welcome.

Board members said Tuesday that they wanted to find an interim superintendent with the same flexible management style Gregory exhibited.

They should do that, but they should also take the opportunity to involve district staff and administrators in a formal examination of how the district operates, and how it could be made to operate better. And they should use the year-long interim period to make sure changes are implemented throughout the district and embraced by everyone.

If that happens, the next permanent superintendent may choose to stay longer than a few months.

Thanks for service

Bill Moore really will be missed on the Medford City Council, not only because of his long tenure but also because of his Irish wit and humor.

Moore was planning to announce his resignation today. He says he and his wife are both in declining health and will move next week into a retirement home in Ward 1.

That means that the 78-year-old councilman will be unable to to serve as a council member from Ward 4. His resignation won't leave a dry eye in council chambers, where he served since 1992.

Moore's colleagues and fishing buddies all have good things to say about him. And he is known as a tension-breaker at meetings, where he sould interrupt bickering by quoting an old Irish saying.

Bill Moore really was an Irishman, born there in 1925. Moore eventually moved to Southern Oregon and married his wife, Marjorie, with whom he had four children.

One friend describes Moore as generous, dedicated and committed to the community. His other friends echo those sentiments. The community owes Moore a lot for his commitment to Medford and its council.

Thanks for all the hard work, Bill, both at City Hall and in the community.