The Ashland School District and city government are teaming up to provide a summer reading program in school libraries.

Under a proposed plan, the school district’s middle school, high school and three elementary schools would each be open one day per week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

That would keep one school library open on a rotating basis Monday through Friday.
Only students who are enrolled in the Ashland School District would be allowed to check out books.

Preschoolers, home-schooled students and other community members could look at materials in the school libraries. School officials are worried that school library collections would be depleted if students who are not enrolled check out materials.

On Monday night, the Ashland Citizens Budget Committee — made up of the Ashland City Council and residents — authorized increasing taxes by up to one penny per $1,000 of assessed property value to raise $17,800 for the summer reading program in school libraries.

That will cost $2.50 for the owner of a home assessed at $250,000.

The city and school district can offer the summer reading program at a low cost by using support staff rather than certified librarians. The staffing cost is about $5,800, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro estimated.

The budget committee authorized additional money to pay for materials.

In addition to allocating money for the stopgap summer reading program, the budget committee authorized the city council to place a levy on the September ballot that would cost up to 58 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value, or $145 for the owner of a home assessed at $250,000.

If Ashland voters approve that levy, the Ashland Public Library would reopen by mid-October.

— The Daily Tidings, Ashland