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Let your voice be heard, respond to school referendum survey

Now is the time for residents of the Medford school district to weigh in on what they feel is important as the district looks ahead to a maintenance and improvement referendum.

Households throughout the school district received a survey on the back page of this week’s issue of The Star News Shopper and the back page of this week’s issue of The Star News which also includes a link to do the survey online at the school district website. Take the time to respond to the survey, either by filling it out and mailing it or dropping it off to the district office, or by completing it online.

The survey asks 12 questions, seven of which are directly asking to gauge resident support for proposed projects including the expansion of technology education spaces to support additional program offerings and allow for increased workforce readiness, renovation of bathrooms and locker room spaces that are decades out of date to improve accessibility and usability, the creation of eight new classroom spaces including science and English classroom space while improving accessibility of the high school, and longterm maintenance improvements including roofs and boilers in all the buildings.

The survey also includes information about the projected tax impacts of a referendum project at various dollar amounts ranging from $15 million to $30 million in projects.

The district currently has no long-term debt and with the current state funding formula qualifies for a 75% reimbursement from the state on referendum costs, what this means is that if the district were to pass a $24 million referendum, local taxpayers would only have to cover $6 million of that project. This is a good deal by any standard.

It needs to be noted that none of these amounts proposed would be enough to do all of the projects identified as long-term needs by staff and administrators. Any referendum that ultimately comes forward will not be all things to everyone, there will be choices and compromises made to do what is considered to be the best for the district as a whole. The board has already ruled out asking for gym space or theater improvements, being responsive to voters and identifying them as wants, more than needs. The results of the survey will help determine what other projects are kept or shelved.

People must return their survey responses by July 17. At the July meeting, board members will have to make the decision on what projects a referendum could include and in August approve the language of a formal question to appear on the ballot. Now is the time for the public to give input on what the district’s priorities should be going forward so that board members can make informed decisions based on current, quantifiable feedback.

The hard lesson learned by Medford School Board members is that they must be responsive to the voters and before spending the time and money to go to referendum, must be confident they have the community’s support.

Take the time to give your input to the Medford School Board.