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Board followed appropriate process

Editor's note: This was submitted in response to our editorial on Thursday, Feb. 15.

The Medford School Board’s 6-1 decision adopting a resolution to file form 805, Request for Ballot Title, with the Secretary of State followed an inclusive and thorough process.

Recent legislative changes require that school districts file a Request for Ballot Title 80 days prior to the election date, or Feb. 23. By filing, the board preserves the right to place this measure before the voters on May 15. The district has contracted with consultants who will provide the board with an in-depth analysis of the likelihood of success for the measure election, prior to the board making its final decision at the March 12 meeting. The deadline for the board to file the Notice of Measure Election with the secretary of state’s office is March 15.

The question before the voters in May would be whether the district may issue $25 million of bonds to construct and equip facilities to expand career and technical pathways and programs.

This measure would provide funds for classrooms, computer labs, drafting labs, shops, paving and parking improvements, and for relocating, removing or refurbishing existing spaces to accommodate new or expanded opportunities for career pathways and career technical education. There is no other use proposed.

Dr. Shumate’s vision for career pathways has been communicated widely with the board and the public, and was a core reason he was hired. The expansion of career pathways and career and technical education is an extension of that vision.

The connection between career technical education and graduation rates has been well documented. In Medford, CTE concentrators (more than two classes) graduate at a rate of 94 percent vs. the district average graduation rate of 78 percent. With Measure 98 funds in hand, district administration looked for opportunities to expand career pathways and CTE in high schools, but quickly ran into space limitations. Determining what a well-designed CTE facility might look like began in earnest last fall when district leaders and teachers, including Board Member Jeff Kinsella as well as community and trade partners, visited state-of-theart facilities in Springfield and Eugene. Preliminary plans for a building were completed and cost estimates determined. Documented shortages in construction trades made related programs a priority.

Close coordination with RCC ensures that programs will not be duplicated. Even more important, programs will be articulated so that RCC credit is earned. The district has proposed that RCC be allowed reciprocal access to the tech facilities after school hours to offer adult education programs.

Feedback received at a recent town hall encouraged flexibility in programs and design, and a concern that equal amounts be spent at both North and South high schools. These concerns have been addressed. Plans will continue to evolve over the coming months as the work continues.

Did the board act in undue haste? Quite the opposite.

Did the board take a bold and courageous vote to raise graduation rates and expand opportunities for our students and our community? Guilty as charged.

— Karen Starchvick serves as chair of the Medford School Board. The opinions expressed are her own.