MEDFORD, Ore. — The Medford School District announced on Friday that it will not move forward with the purchase of Cobblestone Village, what was supposed to be the site of a new Central Medford High School.
The District said that the decision was part of an effort to prioritize "students and staff over stuff" amid economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The quaint-looking Cobblestone Village on Riverside Avenue currently serves as a business park, with a number of commercial tenants. MSD hoped to make it the new home of Central Medford High School and its other alternative programs so that the current Central Medford building on Oakdale could be made into a new middle school.
Dropping the plan for Cobblestone Village means that MSD will no longer be able to open the third middle school, originally slated to happen for the 2021-22 school year. The District had planned to move sixth graders up to middle school during that year, allowing elementary schools more room to grow with just the K-5 grades.
"COVID-19 has changed the economic outlook for MSD along with school districts and businesses across the United States," the District said in a statement. "The MSD, along with other districts in the state, are anticipating lower than expected funding from the state due to a projected economic downturn."
MSD's plan for Cobblestone Village and Central Medford High hinged on an outlook of "substantial" increased revenue. With a downturn in revenue now expected — and the actual severity still very much an unknown — MSD says it's going to prioritize holding onto its cash and working to balance the budget for next year.
“We are saddened to have to make this change,” said Superintendent Bret Champion. “But to put it simply, the Medford School District prioritizes students and staff over stuff. We need to ensure that we make prudent fiscal decisions today so that we can continue to focus on student learning tomorrow.”
The District said that its need for more classrooms and instruction spaces "will continue to be an issue." Some work may still go forward at Central Medford High as funding and current coronavirus restrictions permit.
“We believe the best way to meet these needs in the current economic state is to preserve cash now and revise our strategy,” said Assistant Superintendent Brad Earl. “We will prioritize funding for instructional and support resources and instruction space for our most vulnerable students.”