UPDATED: School bond measure fails

    Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneMichael Campbell, Jeff Kinsella, Suzanne Messer, Karen Starchvick and Lilia Caballero look at election results for the Medford school bond at Four Daughters Irish Pub in Medford on Tuesday.

    Wednesday, May 16, 11:15 a.m.:

    The Jackson County Clerk's office's second round of unofficial voting results indicate that the Medford School District's $25 million bond failed to pass.

    Results last updated at 12:25 a.m. Wednesday widened the lead on the "no" side. Of 19,322 votes cast, 47.9 percent voted yes; 52.11 percent voted no.

    Medford superintendent Brian Shumate, who was out of town on personal business and not available for comment, released a statement through district spokeswoman Natalie Hurd at the news of the second count.

    “While we will not have facilities to expand career and technical education, we will continue to try to expand our pathways program to the best of our abilities using the resources we have," the statement read. "I would like to thank the community for their consideration in this effort.”

    Karen Starchvick, Medford School Board chair and head of the bond campaign, said in a text Wednesday morning that she was disappointed.

    "It would've been wonderful to get this the first time out," she said. "But that is also a pretty unrealistic expectation in terms of money measures in Medford."

    Starchvick and other board members have said they intend to pursue another bond to build CTE facilities in the future.

    "We've a got a whole year to continue the conversation," Starchvick said Tuesday night while awaiting results.

    Nick Card, chair of the Jackson County Republican Party, said he was pleased with the result. The party's executive committee came out against the bond measure at the beginning of May.

    Card said the party favors expanding CTE programs but took issue with the details of the bond.

    "One of the things that we're always looking when it comes to governance is making sure it's responsible governance — using money in a way that gets the most value for the voters," Card said. "Our evaluation of the measure was that it did not."

    Tuesday, May 15, 11:30 p.m.:

    The Medford School District’s $25 million bond was failing in initial returns Tuesday evening.

    Of the total 15,341 votes cast in the bond measure, 48.6 percent had voted yes; 51.4 percent voted no.

    “It was an uphill battle,” said School Board Chair Karen Starchvick, who headed the bond campaign. “We knew it when we took it to the ballot.”

    The $25 million bond would have financed construction of two new buildings to house CTE programs — career technical education — one at North and one at South Medford High School. The new buildings would have enabled new CTE programs, such as carpentry and heating and air conditioning training.

    School Board members gathered at Four Daughters Irish Pub in downtown Medford said they remained hopeful that still-uncounted votes would swing the outcome back in their favor as the night went on.

    “I’m going to hope for another miracle like in 2006,” Starchvick said, referring to the outcome of the last school bond — when many voters fell asleep to a “no” and awoke to find it had passed.

    In the meantime, they waited for the next round of results.

    Superintendent of Medford Schools Brian Shumate was out of town and was not available for comment, and the district through its spokeswoman declined to comment until final unofficial results are announced.

    The CTE facilities would expand the number of Pathway courses the district offers. Pathways are multi-course sequences that aim to introduce high school students to potential career options or areas of academic study. Medford offers 33 CTE classes in nine subjects at North Medford and 36 classes in seven CTE subjects at South Medford.

    Medford property owners’ taxes would have increased from $1.57 to $1.69 per every $1,000 of assessed value; the 12-cent increase spelled a potential $32 annual increase on a $265,000 home.

    The bond effort didn’t run into any public opposition until just a couple of weeks before Election Day. The Jackson County Republican Party executive committee decided to take a “vote no” stance and launched some campaigning efforts against the bond, led in part by Kevin Husted, who chaired the school district’s budget committee this year.

    The “no” campaign was largely focused on social media. Husted shared articles, news stories and a guest opinion piece published in the Mail Tribune about the bond on his Facebook page from his unsuccessful campaign for a school board seat last year.

    Jackson County Republicans also provided “Vote NO: Measure 15-175” lawn signs in their downtown office.

    Medford School Board members such as Vice-Chair Michael Campbell responded to Husted and other Republicans’ complaints that the School Board hadn’t thoroughly explored options beyond asking for $25 million. Husted also raised concerns about whether the district would ask for more money in the future to build schools to accommodate a growing student population.

    In his own guest opinion piece, Campbell said the district has considered a bond for CTE facilities for at least a year. He pointed to increasing CTE offerings as a strategy to keep students at North and South Medford High schools and out of the alternative Central Medford High School. District administrators have discussed using space in Central’s building to potentially house middle school students.

    Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

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