School board sets vote on elementaries; cancels town-hall event

Some members of the Medford School Board today said they want to dedicate bond funds to rebuild two elementary schools closed last June because of unsafe structural conditions.

The board canceled a town hall meeting set for Jan. 8 on the future of the schools and instead scheduled a special meeting where it will consider allocating $12 million each to rebuild Jackson and Roosevelt, two circa-1911 elementary schools.

Rebuilding the two schools would mean scrapping a proposal to convert old South Medford High School into a third middle school and adding the sixth grade to the existing mix of seventh and eighth-graders at Medford middle schools.

Some board members had been keen on the idea of grades 6 through 8 middle schools, as they would end crowding and offer younger students more extracurricular activities.

But Jackson and Roosevelt supporters have vehemently opposed the plan, as it would mean the permanent closure of the two schools to which students can walk.

“I think we hear the need to rebuild Jackson and Roosevelt,” said Board Member Larry Nicholson who initiated the special meeting. “The importance of having walking schools outweighed the benefits of a third middle school.”

Completing the Jackson and Roosevelt projects would also entail trimming $1 million from a $83 million project to build a new high school at Columbus and Cunningham avenues to replace South Medford at South Oakdale Avenue.

-Paris Achen

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