Who will attend Oakdale? – Medford news, weather, sports, breaking news

Andy Atkinson/Mail TribuneNew Medford Middle School is being rebuilt from Central Medford High School on S Oakdale Ave.

Andy Atkinson/Mail Tribune A new Medford College is being built at the former Central Medford High School on South Oakdale Avenue.

Medford School District promises public input with ‘gallery walks’ and hearing ahead of attendance zoning vote in May

A future college in downtown Medford has a name and a principal. Now, in preparation for Oakdale Middle School to open in the fall of 2023, work to establish the school’s attendance limits is underway.

“The question is, who’s going to show up at Oakdale Middle School?” Medford School District Superintendent Bret Champion said at a recent school board meeting. “Our team worked on it.”

That work — by a 40-member committee made up of district officials and community members — hasn’t been done in the district since 1996, when Abraham Lincoln Elementary School was built.

“This, in Medford, only happens once every ten or two years,” said Brad Earl, assistant superintendent of operations. “We take this very seriously, not only because it will impact the students (currently attending), but it is for generations to come.”

The zoning committee present in Oakdale halted work for much of the pandemic, which also delayed the opening of the new college, at 815 S. Oakdale Ave, by a year.

This year the group is back in business, organizing tours of the construction site and producing four council attendance zoning options for the public to view on ‘gallery walks’ later this month.

“I strongly encourage people to find a way to engage with this process in one way or another and provide us with feedback, so that we can convey it to the board,” said said Earl.

The future Oakdale Middle School is being built to relieve pressure on elementary schools in the district. What would also help, according to school officials, is the district’s transition to a model where elementary schools include K-5 grades; home colleges 6-8; and secondary schools include grades 9-12.

When completed, Oakdale will be Medford’s third college, along with Hedrick and McLoughlin.

The new college was given its name “Oakdale” after the school board voted unanimously in November. In February, Karina Chavez Rizo, the current principal of White Mountain Middle School at Eagle Point, was chosen to lead Oakdale when it opens next year.

Now the conversation turns to attendance zoning, which the school board discussed on March 17, just before spring break. At that time, Earl presented them with four zoning proposals.

In a recording of that meeting, school officials overlaid a message to everyone saying the cards were just that – proposals – and that the community would get a chance to see them during walks through the gallery. . Once these events have occurred, the work of the Attendance Zoning Committee will be complete.

“We’ll take four different scenarios in four different communities,” Earl said of the gallery walks. “Next, we will announce these four gallery walks so that as many parents, students and families who will be affected by this as possible have the chance to take a look and contribute. “

The dates and times for the gallery walk are 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13 at Oak Grove Elementary School (a Spanish session will be held from 6-7 p.m.); 5-6 p.m. Tuesday, April 19 at Griffin Creek Elementary School; 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26 at Lone Pine Elementary School; and 5-6 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 at Howard Elementary School (a Spanish session will be held from 6-7 p.m.).

Earl said once the community sees those options, they can weigh in not only the comments online, but also at a public hearing the council has set for early May.

Once community feedback is gathered, district staff – including Earl and Champion – will meet to decide on their attendance zoning recommendation for the council, which may just be one option.

“It really is a comprehensive look at how we deliver secondary education in the Medford School District,” Earl said. “Having three equally balanced schools is really hard to do.”

The district’s attendance area charter contains a grandfather clause where families can request to keep students in the same school, regardless of where they live.

“Some parents may actually want the change,” Earl noted. “After the Oakdale tours, one parent in particular said, ‘I really wish my students could go to Oakdale.'”

It was just one example of a parent’s reaction to the new middle school, Earl said, but he added that he thought community reaction to the zoning changes would be mixed. That’s why principals at all three colleges in the district are eager to find out what the new attendance area will be, Earl said.

“They want to start building (a) community – even a year ahead,” Earl said.

In a joint statement to the Mail Tribune, board chair Suzanne Messer and vice-president Cynthia Wright said they were “very excited about the changes within our district that this third college will bring.”

They noted that attendance zoning impacts many communities.

“We do not make these decisions lightly,” Wright and Messer wrote. “When families are looking for housing, one of their decision points is often the school district’s attendance zone.”

They said community feedback would be “very” influential in their vote for the new attendance area.

“As a board, we are very excited about this next chapter in the Medford School District,” Wright and Messer wrote. “With our 6-7-8 students coming together, their opportunities for educational growth are really expanding.”

Earl asked the community to “trust the ‘zoning’ process and accept that we are keen to provide high quality education” at all three colleges.

Contact journalist Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.