After several months of delays because of red tape, construction of Logos Public Charter School’s new home is under way.
Executive Director Sheryl Zimmerer says the school’s current building, which is 9,000 square feet and was constructed in the ‘60s, is constraining not only because of its small space, but also its features, such as a shortage of electrical outlets.
“I wish we could be in it today,” she said of the new building, which for now is little more than a foundation in a cleared corner of Wes Howard Memorial Sports Park, located at Ross Lane and Rossanley Drive in northwest Medford.
An Aug. 14, 2017, a Mail Tribune article quoted Zimmerer as saying the school was “busting at the seams, honestly,” and that school officials hoped to be moved into the new building in a year’s time.
But the processes for the school to acquire the nearly five acres (corrected) of land, which the Wes Howard Foundation donated to the school (corrected), took more time and trouble than expected. Construction was repeatedly delayed after a September 2017 groundbreaking.
When the new building is complete, now expected in August 2019, Logos’ teachers, administrators and 1,000 students will have 25,500 square feet at their disposal.
Zimmerer said her focus when she entered the executive director position last fall was “righting the ship.” Logos’ outgoing executive director, Joe VonDoloski, came under the scrutiny of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission for a lucrative contract he’d made with Logos as a consultant less than a month after he’d resigned. The school also asked the Medford School District to expand its enrollment cap from 1,000 to 1,200. The Medford School Board declined to approve the cap expansion in August, in part because the new, larger building was not ready yet.
Dave Dotterrer, chairman of the Logos School Board, emailed new Medford School Board Chairwoman Cynthia Wright last month asking the board to again consider a cap expansion. But in Wright’s response the following day, she said the Medford School Board would not consider any adjustments to the enrollment cap until 2021 — the year of the school’s next charter renewal.
“The discussions on increasing charter caps are lengthy and the process takes time,” Wright said in a text message Wednesday. “At this time the board would prefer to follow the contract and have the big discussion when it is renewal time.”
With the new school year about to begin, the waiting list for students trying to attend Logos next year is fluctuating between 120 and 150 students, Zimmerer said.
Logos’ new facility will feature rooms for science, music and special education, as well as meeting spaces and general use rooms for teachers to meet with students. Zimmerer said the current building at 400 Earhart St. in Medford does not have a room big enough for all-staff meetings.
At the current location, students who are enrolled in Logos Scholars Academy have other classes in another building across Riverside Avenue. Many of those students are running across one of Medford’s major thoroughfares for their classes.
The project is estimated to cost the charter school between $5.5 million and $6 million, Zimmerer said, a majority of which is covered by about $3 million in savings. The land donation and a loan from People’s Bank also helped move the project forward.