Send MASH renovation question to voters
The Medford School Board should proceed with plans to send proposed renovations to the voters for approval this November.
Since opening its doors more than 50 years ago, Medford Area Senior High School (MASH) has served generations of area students. Thousands of young people have walked through its doorways into careers and have become tradesmen, doctors, lawyers and leaders of business. The common thread for all of these success stories was the strong educational foundation they received in the Medford Area Public School District.
As with any building, MASH must change with the times. Educational needs have evolved over the decades since the doors opened. Over the years, these changes have been driven by demands from industry and employers. This continues to be the case today.
The school district must be nimble in responding to these demands and to the need to provide a strong learning environment for all students in the district.
Medford is luckier than other areas in that past school boards and the community have invested in projects throughout the years. These have allowed the basic infrastructure of the building to remain strong, providing a solid base for the future.
The challenge is in ensuring the district is wellprepared for the future and able to adapt to meet the ever-changing needs to prepare young people to enter as yet unimagined industries and professions, while continuing to provide for the core skills needed in trades and technology.
The Medford School Board should be commended for doing their homework and looking at what the districtâ€™s needs are in ensuring building security, infrastructure and educational spaces. They likewise deserve praise for taking the wish list of items and being willing to pare away what would be nice to have from what is essential as identified by the broad-based survey of district residents.
The bulk of the survey responses came during the period of most uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is noteworthy that residents showed strong support for making a long-term investment in the future despite short-term issues. The school board has worked diligently to follow the path laid out by the survey results.
The proposed renovations, focused on updating and adding educational spaces in industry, science, technology and the arts, are much needed to ensure that tomorrowâ€™s graduates have opportunities to thrive. While the draft plan calls for athletic and theater space additions, these will augment existing spaces and meet identified needs.
The school board should continue to refine the plans as proposed by the architects and engineers and keep in mind the goal of getting the most bang for the taxpayersâ€™ dollars. In the coming weeks board members must make the decision on what exactly will be asked for and the estimated dollar amount of the project. In doing so, they will have done their part. Then it will be up to voters to go to the polling places this November and do their part to continue to invest in the strong educational foundations of the Medford School District.