Blake Turner, 10, left, and Richard Felder, 10, create signs for a rally to keep Jackson Elementary School from being closed forever. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Protesting school closures

Parents and children expressed their concerns over the closing and uncertain future of Jackson and Roosevelt elementary schools during a rally Saturday afternoon in Medford's Alba Park.

Around 50 people, some wearing signs critical of the Medford School District's plan to shutter the schools, descended on the park.

"I miss the teachers and everything at Jackson," said former Jackson fifth-grader Richard Felder, whose classes have been moved a couple blocks east to McLoughlin Middle School.

The district closed Jackson and Roosevelt in June on the recommendation of Portland-based DCI Engineers Inc. and dispersed the students to other schools.

DCI found that failing trusses and crumbling bricks could cause the buildings to collapse during an earthquake.

For students like Richard, the move to a new school was daunting. His younger sister, a first-grader, now attends West Side School northwest of Medford.

"It's actually scary because I don't know it as much," he said.

Richard spent the afternoon wearing a sign that read: "Jackson has been like a home to me for 5 years!"

Richard's mother, Sarah Felder, worries that because her young children have been split up she will be forced to make tough choices in the future.

"What do I do during a holiday party?" she said. "Which one do I go to? I resent being forced to make that decision."

The parents took turns speaking before the group using a megaphone.

Also in attendance were Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long, Medford City Councilman Ben Truwe and Peter Sage, who was recently appointed to a task force that will examine what should be done with the campuses. Potential funding to refurbish the buildings has to compete with other district priorities assigned to a $189 million facilities improvement bond package, which voters passed in November.

Jim Bauermeister, whose son graduated from Roosevelt last year, said the neighborhoods surrounding the schools would suffer from the closings.

"Roosevelt is the perfect size for the community and for the neighborhood," he said. "They are within walking and biking distance, which allows parents to spend quality time with their children."

The task force is scheduled to make recommendations sometime this month. Most who took to the park Saturday are hoping the closures are temporary.

"I feel that the district put us in an either-or position," said Kathy Greager, whose two children attended Jackson.

She proposed dividing up the funds from the bond among all the district's schools.

"Let everyone sacrifice to keep them all open," she said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail

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