Ashland school levy passed by higher percentage than others in state

Ashland voters supported the local school levy by a higher percentage than voters in the other four counties in the state with similar levies on the Nov. 2 ballot, election results show.

According to the latest Jackson County elections office numbers, released Wednesday, 8,160 Ashland voters, or 71 percent, moved to renew the Youth Activities and Academics Levy

“I think the fact that the vote was higher this time shows that everyone understands the impact of the economy on education right now,” Superintendent Juli Di Chiro told the School Board Monday.

Only about a quarter of households in the city have children attending district schools, she said.

The levy ensures $3 million annually in funding for after-school sports, academic programs and library staffing until June 2016.

Voters decided to renew similar levies in Riverdale, Corvallis and Seaside school districts. A new levy for Multnomah County’s Corbett School District failed, garnering only 35 percent of the vote, or 669 votes.

Portland’s Riverdale levy secured 57 percent of the vote, or 592 votes. The Corvallis levy received 68 percent of the vote, or 17,012 votes. The Seaside levy won 56 percent of the vote, or 2,667 votes.

According to Wednesday’s numbers, 3,293 Ashland voters — or 29 percent — voted against renewing the levy.

The district has been supported by a voter-approved levy since 1994. A 2007 ballot measure to alter the levy, extending it throughout the district's boundaries and funneling the money into the general fund budget, passed with 65.7 percent of the vote.

The levy revenues make up about 13 percent of the district's general fund budget, so if the measure had failed, the district would have needed to make severe cuts, said Jill Turner, the district's business manager.

The bulk of the money is budgeted for middle and high school academic programs and extra-curricular activities, as well as district-wide guidance counseling services. Some of the money also goes to support district-wide library services and grounds maintenance, as well as elementary school programs, such as music and art lessons.

The ballot measure asked voters to renew the current levy, which expires in June 2011 and requires residential property owners within the district's boundaries to pay $1.29 for every $1,000 of the assessed value of their home annually. An owner of a home assessed at $200,000 pays about $258 per year under the levy.

—Hannah Guzik

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