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Don’t let school discussion end

Don’t let school discussion end Don’t let school discussion end

“It is a special place here.”

That comment from public relation specialist Erika Freeman put into words what residents of the Medford School District, and all of Taylor County, have known for a long time. This is a special place, and it is kept so by residents who care deeply about the community and its educational opportunities.

Freeman works for J.H. Findorff & Son, the company the school board hired to help with developing options for the future of Medford Area Senior High.

Last month, representatives from the school district and company led a series of informational sessions to share ideas and gather feedback on the future of the high school. With the building recently passing the half-century mark, it is a good idea to assess what is there and to look ahead to plan for future needs.

The sessions drew 165 residents who listened to speakers talking about the solid state of the school district’s finances, how the district has stayed on top of maintenance and how the high school building is structurally sound. They also heard about the needs for the building in regard to being adaptable to modern educational and cultural trends, the need for security upgrades, as well as the ongoing investment in infrastructure improvements that are part of maintaining any building.

The sessions provided those in attendance with a voice at the beginning of the process. Rather than having a committee or individual try to guess what residents think is important, the district asked them. That information will be used to craft a survey that will be sent to all district residents next spring to further refine the priority areas residents have when it comes to their schools.

The feedback at the sessions was diverse with some focusing on the need to maintain what is there while others favored the creation of additional education spaces and looking at ways to improve building security.

Ultimately, the future of Medford Area Senior High will be in the hands of district voters at some point in the future when they may be asked to vote on a referendum question. What that question may look like, or the scope of the potential projects will depend on district residents continuing the discussions started at the listening sessions. It will depend on residents continuing to share their thoughts with school officials and board members so that any future projects reflect what the community wants rather than playing a guessing game with voters.

The listening sessions were a good start to the process, but they are only the beginning of what needs to be a lengthy two-way conversation between residents and school district officials. For their part, school offi cials seem eager for feedback from residents. As the process moves forward it is essential for residents to continue to give that feedback to ensure any future projects address the wants and needs of the community.