Letters to the editor

Five reasons to support YAAL

When renewal of Ashland's Youth Activities Levy (YAL) became unrealistic, the Ashland School Board appointed a citizen's advisory committee to make recommendations for alternatives. Current board member Keith Massie and Booster Club president Lynn "Coz" Costantino were joined by former school board members Amy Amrhein, Dan Thorndike, and Chuck Keil to evaluate options.

The current ballot measure 15-80, Ashland's Youth Activity and Academic Levy (YAAL) is the result. The committee unanimously recommended that the board pursue this district-wide "Local Option" levy to replace the YAL.

Our committee also unanimously recommended that the district shift to the local option tax, even if the current YAL were still viable.

The reasons are straight forward.

1. Recent changes to state law make the Local Option viable for the Ashland School District;

2. Taxing the entire school district is fairer than just taxing property within the City of Ashland as the current YAL does;

3. General fund money generated by the YAAL allows more flexibility and local control to our elected board and administrators when dealing with changes in enrollment;

4. Expanding the number of properties contributing to the school district allows a lower rate to produce the same or higher revenue; and

5. The activities, clubs, athletics, and non-graded programs funded by the current levy have a proven track record of successfully engaging students. It's critical we continue providing for these programs.

The YAAL is good news for students, teachers, and taxpayers.

Amy Amrhein

Chair, YAL Citizen Advisory Committee

YAAL funds needed programs

While school districts across Oregon are struggling to provide the bare basics of education with the limited funds the state provides, Ashland voters have an opportunity to continue to support a full and rich array of academics and activities for our youth by voting yes on the Youth Academics and Activities Levy.

Programs funded by the levy are the kinds of classes and activities that spark a passion for learning &

whether it's through the challenge of mastering a second language, the competitive thrill of winning a debate or the frustration of losing a hard-fought athletic competition.

Our community has always valued students who are not merely robots who have mastered the mechanics of reading, writing and arthimetics, but are young people who will become passionate life-long learners. Let's continue that tradition by supporting the new, improved Youth Activity and Academics Levy. Students we support today will become the doctors who care for us in emergency rooms, the teachers of our grandchildren, and the leaders and inventors who figure out how to solve the problems we've left behind.

Jeanne Chouard

Trust school board with YAAL

I was very disappointed to see the Tidings editorial speak out against the upcoming Youth Activities and Academic Levy. As chairperson of the current Youth Activities Levy, I was an active participant in discussing the framework for the new proposed Levy. I assure you that the Ashland School Board understands the passion and support for all the extra-curricular activities in this community. The decision to seek a three-year levy, as opposed to another five year, demonstrates their openness to feedback from the community.

The present levy is split evenly with programs at the high school, middle school and elementary level. The YAL committee strives for an equal balance between athletic, academic and artistic interests. As president of the AHS Booster Club, I personally see the benefit to the high school sports program. It is because of the levy that we are able to have numerous club sports. We all know the importance of extracurricular activities in our children's lives, and it would be disastrous to see these programs cancelled.

We need to trust the school board to continue funding the existing programs at their current level for the next three years. I encourage you to share this trust and vote in support of the YAAL, which will help preserve our reputation as one of the finest school districts in the state.

Lynn "Coz" Constantino

AHS Booster Club President

YAL Chairman

Band director supports YAAL

I am in my fourth year as the band director at the Ashland Middle School and, every year I am grateful for the support that our school receives from the community of Ashland &

both financially and energetically. Our band program, which is currently thriving, benefits from the money that comes into our school through the levy.

Through this fund, we are able to bring in local professional musicians to work in small groups with the students as they prepare for The Solo and Ensemble Festival, and we have been able to start a Jazz Band that meets before school. These activities, which provide the students with an intensive extension of the skills they are learning within their band classes, have become integral and successful parts of our band program.

When Ashland passed the original Youth Activities Levy, the students learned that their town supports the arts in education. Our middle school band marches annually in Ashland's Festival of Lights Parade and Fourth of July Parade as a way of giving the students a chance to say "thank you" to their town &

and they do so enthusiastically.

It is my hope that our schools will be able to continue providing the students with the types of levy-funded activities that so greatly enhance their education and their lives.Please vote to pass the YAAL and, by doing so, you will contribute to the continued success of our middle school band program, as well as to the rest of our flourishing extra-curricular activities.

Jenifer Carstensen

AMS Band Director

Bewildered about school activity taxes

I encourage my fellow citizens of Ashland too review their recent property tax bills.

After doing a little calculating, I figured out that 47 percent of our bills were going to the Ashland school system and youth levy.

In the last 10 years, many homes worth millions of dollars have been built in Ashland. Along with this large increase of funding to our schools, we've had a decrease in student population. Where is all this money going? Until I can find the answer to this question, I find it difficult to support any additional funding.

Robert Jaffe

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