Medford may go to 4-day school week

Faced with $9 million to $12 million in decreased state funding next year, the Medford School District is proposing converting to a four-day school week and the elimination of elementary music and middle school athletics.

It also would cut at least 23 teaching and two administrative jobs.

The district of about 12,000 students is holding meetings this week to solicit public feedback on the proposals.

The next ones are set for 7 tonight and 10 a.m. Saturday, both at Washington Elementary School, 610 S. Peach St.

The meetings come in advance of the district's proposed budget, due out at 6 p.m. May 12 during a budget committee meeting also at Washington school.

"We have not identified everything we are going to do," said Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long. "This is just a beginning conversation to get feedback."

The district's budget is projected to shrink next year from $94 million to $85 million and possibly as low as $82 million, depending on the state's revenue forecast May 15, according to the district finance office's projections.

The district's proposal for cuts includes $3.5 million from reducing the teaching staff by 23, all or most of which would come from retirements and resignations, Long said.

"We've been losing students over the last five years, and we could cut back on teachers," Long said.

The district is projecting a loss in enrollment of 100 to 125 pupils next year. For every 100 pupils lost, four teaching positions can be eliminated and still maintain the average class size, Long said.

Two administrative positions, including one communications coordinator and an assistant principal, also would disappear. The district has never filled the communication coordinator position for which it budgeted this year, and the assistant principal would be moved to a vacant post.

The proposal also entails trimming $1 million in school supplies and materials and $3.5 million by converting to a four-day school week. Eliminating the elementary music and middle school athletics programs would save $1 million.

If the budget falls to $82 million, the district likely will have to shorten the school year and possibly slash more jobs, Long said.

Katie Tso, Hoover Elementary parent and member of the Stand for Children education advocacy group, attended the first public forum Tuesday.

Tso said the district needs to trim more from high school athletics instead of cutting programs such as elementary music, which benefit every pupil.

If a varsity sport has multiple coaches, it should be whittled down to one coach, she said.

Rather than obliterate the elementary music program, a few itinerant music teachers could serve multiple campuses, she said.

"We've got to change, but we've got to do it in a way that's smart," she said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

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