Editor’s note: This was written in response to our editorial Sunday, April 29.
By Kevin Husted
I think we all want more career and technical education programs for our kids in the district. I think we all realize that college is not for all (some reports are that 45-plus percent won’t go to college), but is another bond really the answer? Is throwing $25 million at the problem going to fix it or make it better?
Let’s look at the facts:
1. The actual plan — The plan is to demolish a perfectly good building at North Medford High School to build a new one and create a brand new one at South as well to hold brand-new, expensive new equipment. (we just sold off some old CTE equipment not long ago!)
2. Staffing and PERS increase — Measure 98 provides $1.7 million this year and $1.8 million the next. After that? There is zero promised. The district is looking at possible (for sure) cuts in the next few years due to the PERS uptick. These brand-new buildings filled with brand-new equipment could be sitting empty as soon as 2020/2021.
3. Current CTE programs — currently there are 33 CTE classes offered at North and 36 offered at South. Also RCC has been and will continue to be a partner in CTE education as they team with local businesses to offer apprentice programs for high schoolers and beyond.
4. Bigger problems — Overcrowding in our elementary schools is becoming and will continue to be a big problem. A problem that directly affects all students. Solutions such as building modular classrooms and “sixth-grade academy” are just Band-aids that won’t hold up. We will be asked to vote on a larger bond soon that could be $70 million-plus for two more middle schools. We are currently still paying on the last bond passed in 2006 and it won’t be paid off until 2034!
5. Other solutions for CTE — This bond has been brought up and put on the ballot very quickly and without much discussion. This was not an accident. The powers that be here want the measure passed before we the public can really dissect it.
There are many other options. Central Point, for example, is creating a maker space for CTE work in the old Crater Iron building, RCC is more than capable of being a partner in this as they already have a program, or building one, centrally located building that could provide for the whole district could be a real solution.
The point is there are many options that need to be explored and we don’t need to be pushed into throwing $25 million at a problem that is really not a $25 million problem.
Do we need more and better CTE programs? Yes! Is the answer take the easiest route and just ask for more free money? No. The answer is, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work to do a better job.
No on Measure 15-175 is the only real responsible vote I see at this point. We can and will do better!
Kevin Husted is chairman of the Medford School District Budget Committee, president of the Oak Grove Elementary PTO and vice chairman of the Logos Public Charter Schoo board.