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Medford, P-T schools boundary change unlikely

With the planned southeast expansion in Medford, will the new area and the current neighborhood around Orchard Hill Elementary become part of the Medford School District? It looks like kids living near this area right now have to travel out of town to Talent Middle School and Phoenix High School. The current districting seems to make no sense.

— Puzzled in Medford

Well, Puzzled, what makes sense may be in the eye of the beholder. Given the property values — and associated property taxes — in the area you reference, there’s not much likelihood of a major boundary shift between the two districts — and no official conversations about it in recent memory.

The Medford School District’s boundary on its southeast side extends along Barnett Road east from Interstate 5 to a point near the top of the ridge of the nearby hills. From Interstate 5, it zigzags south and west for several miles before settling into a relatively direct southerly path that runs along the Siskiyou Mountains to the California border. That area between Barnett Road, the Siskiyous and the California border is the turf of the Phoenix-Talent and Ashland school districts.

The Phoenix-Talent district includes the Rogue Valley Manor area and the residential area of Medford that lies south of Barnett Road, including some of the new development in Medford’s Southeast Plan. As you probably know, elementary-age students attend P-T’s Orchard Hill Elementary School within Medford’s city limits, but middle school students head to Talent and high schoolers to Phoenix High.

Medford’s recent redrawing of its urban growth boundary makes it even less likely that the Phoenix-Talent powers-that-be would agree to shifting land in the city limits to the Medford district. The city plan takes in Centennial Golf Club, which seems destined to one day include a major residential area, and an area south of the golf course that’s slated to become an “employment center” — in other words a place with a bunch of businesses and a bunch of property taxes.

Residents of a district can propose boundary changes — see Oregon Revised Statute 330 — but the voters of both districts must approve of the change. Given the millions of tax dollars at stake, that seems unlikely.

Money talks and students walk, or, in this case, bus.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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