School board sets new levy

The school board approved ballot language for the local option levy at its general meeting Monday night.

The tax, renamed the Youth Activities and Academics Levy, was set at $1.29 per thousand in assessed value for a three-year period. It will reach voters in the November election.

"It's really important that voters understand that this money is vital," said board member Amy Patton during discussion of the ballot language. "In terms of what we're currently offering students, the activities and support services, we just can't do that without this money."

The money will support athletics, arts and activities funded by the current Youth Activites Levy. The district can also use it for academics, such as increased foreign language programs.

"We will continue some athletic and arts programs whether or not this passes," said board member Ruth Alexander. "It's just the extent that we will be able to offer them."

If passed, the levy will apply to all residents of the school district. Students living outside the city limits will no longer be charged a $40 fee for each extra-curricular activity they participate in.

Preparing for a new year

The board also heard several reports in preparation for the new school year.

Construction workers unexpectedly discovered asbestos in the science wing at Ashland High School last week, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said. The entire building housing the science wing will be closed for the next two weeks while the substance, originally used as a fire retardant, is removed from ceiling tiles.

The building should reopen on Aug. 27, she said, but the summer library program will be cancelled, and counseling appointments reshuffled, as both were scheduled in the same building.

"Unfortunately it's just something we have to do," Di Chiro said.

Samuel Bogdanove, the director of student services, presented an update on the district's flier distribution policy. Students received 62 fliers from outside agencies last year, mainly from Southern Oregon University and the YMCA. Only three elicited a strong negative reaction from community members, including a reading camp hosted by a church and a natural health activity with an acupuncturist.

"As I interpret this policy, if we make part of a public agency available, it has to be available to anyone who meets the requirements regardless of what I think of them." Bogdanove said.

Board members agreed that the number and type of fliers were acceptable under current guidelines. They will revisit the issue if the number increases significantly.

Other changes for the 2007-08 school year include an increase in school lunch and breakfast prices and an increase in the high school yearbook to $50 for an all-color book.

Registration begins today and continues on Wednesday. If parents have schedule conflicts, they can register their children during business hours any day after Aug. 15.

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