CrossRoads School to be closed in June

CrossRoads School in Medford has come to the end of the road.

After 20 years of offering an alternative educational opportunity to troubled youths in Jackson County, the tiny school is scheduled to close in June due to declining enrollment and ongoing budget deficits, officials said.

Community Works' board of directors agreed Wednesday to close the alternative school, the only one that provides on-site drug and alcohol counseling and mental-health treatment services for youths in Jackson County, when the current school year ends in June.

"It was a very somber meeting Wednesday," said Dan Murphy, Community Works' president and chief executive officer. "There is a sense of loss. But it is a good time for us to close, and it is the responsible thing to do."

He said consultations with key community and school leaders clarified the board's conclusion that CrossRoads is no longer a viable alternative school.

The school began in 1988, offering high school diploma equivalency programs to pregnant and parenting teens. In 1992, CrossRoads became an accredited alternative school, offering mental-health counseling, small-group instruction and drug and alcohol counseling.

Students were referred to CrossRoads by Jackson County schools. Each referral brought CrossRoads 80 percent of that student's state funding allotment.

As school budgets tightened, referrals declined, and school districts began developing their own alternative programs. Although five school districts still refer students to CrossRoads to take advantage of its therapeutic environment, enrollment has declined from 90 students to just 30 in the past year, Murphy said.

"We just aren't getting the referrals anymore," Murphy said. "CrossRoads is currently running at a $51,000 deficit due to its declining enrollment."

Greg Huston, CrossRoads administrator, is working with his students and the schools that referred them to identify other options for them to complete their high school education.

Huston said he has mixed emotions about the school's impending closure. Pragmatically, he realizes the school was not getting the volume of enrollment it needed to survive, and Community Works could not continue to absorb the school's debt, he said.

At the same time, he has concerns that some high-needs kids may have trouble adapting when they attempt to make the transition back into the schools that referred them.

"I'm worried about the kids," Huston said. "We have a few who aren't a good fit (for the programs currently available at other middle and high schools)."

CrossRoads provides the only on-site program for mental health, drug and alcohol addiction, family counseling and other unique aid, he said.

"Some of our kids have significant mental-health issues, or problems with drug and alcohol addiction," said Huston. "We really were their last refuge. There is going to be a void."

Tevin Silva, 17, is one of four CrossRoads students graduating at the school's final commencement ceremony on June 4. The Eagle Point School District referred him to CrossRoads several times over the past four years, he said.

"I got into some trouble," Silva recalled. "I got expelled and suspended a lot."

At CrossRoads he was treated for drug and alcohol problems, took anger-management classes and received ongoing personal therapy from the school's counselor.

"I had anger problems, and I would physically react," Silva said. "A lot of kids still need a lot of help. When CrossRoads closes down, a lot of kids are going to get a lot less attention. It's like they're going to get sweeped up under the carpet."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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