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This artist's rendering shows the new Logos Public Charter School planned for the Wes Howard property at Ross Lane and Rossanley Drive. [Drawing courtesy of Logos Public Charter School]

Logos to build new school at Wes Howard park

By this time next year, Logos Public Charter School officials hope to have students and staff out of a cramped, 9,500-square-foot facility on Earhart Street and into a new, 25,500-square-foot facility in northwest Medford.


Construction on the $5.3 million project is expected to begin Sept. 25, following a ground-breaking ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 14.


Logos opened in 2010 at its current location, formerly Medford Opportunity School, and at the time, was serving about 300 homeschool students through online and on-campus classes and instructional support. The school has since met its cap of 1,000 students and has grown from 13 employees to about 80.


“We’re busting at the seams, honestly,” said the school’s new executive director, Sheryl Zimmerer. “We can’t even provide all the classes we want to because there is not the classroom space.”


The school’s Earhart facility has only eight offices; seven classrooms, including the curriculum library and special education room; and a lobby that also serves as a less-than-ideal meeting space for teachers, parents and students, Zimmerer said.


“We can’t have everyone here at our school for an event or have a staff meeting with all of our staff at the same time,” she said.


The new building will be much better suited to the school’s unconventional model, in which homeschool students have the option of taking classes on campus or online and meet regularly with a teachers to discuss their progress and receive additional instructional support.


The one-story, contemporary building will have an open floor plan and “an almost internal village feel” with clouds suspended from the high ceilings in the commons area, lots of natural light and rounded, colorful architectural masses at the entry to different classroom zones, said architect Gary Caperna.


The new school will feature 12 classrooms, a music room, a science lab, an art room, a play area for students’ younger siblings to hang out, a special education room, an assembly room for up to 150 people, a library, 16 offices and 10 private multipurpose rooms where teachers can meet with students and parents. There also will be a large, fenced play area outdoors, as well as a school garden, covered patio area, bike racks and parking lot, Caperna said.


The school will add a play structure sometime after JB Steel has completed the project, Zimmerer said.


The campus will sit on about 5.75 acres in the southeast corner of the more than 60-acre Wes Howard Memorial Sports Park at Ross Lane and Rossanley Drive.


The property previously belonged to Wes Howard, who died in 2003 at age 87, leaving behind an estate valued at $11 million that he intended for a sports park. Except for two soccer fields, a parking lot and restrooms, the property remains largely undeveloped.


The Wes Howard Foundation generously agreed to lease the property to Logos for 100 years at a rate of $1 per year, said former Logos Executive Director Joseph VonDoloski.


“(Howard’s) will was to have that for the use of children, and I can’t think of anything better than to have a school there,” said Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, a foundation board member.


Over the past several years, the school has managed to save about $2 million for the downpayment on the new school and has a loan to pay for the rest, Zimmerer said.


“We have been able to be fiscally responsible and made this (Earhart) building work for so long,” she said, adding that the school has budgeted for the loan payment and plans to have it paid off in seven years.


 — Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

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