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April 27, 2006 Committee looks to trim costs for final proposal for school improvements By Alan Panebaker Ashland Daily Tidings Members of the Ashland School Board and Bond and Facilities committee trudged through a proposed bond packag

Members of the Ashland School Board and Bond and Facilities committee trudged through a proposed bond package Wednesday night, discussing which options to cut.

The new high school athletic stadium was first on the list.

&

Our dilemma right now is that we continue to have more needs than we have money,&

Ashland School District Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said.

As the bond will hit November&

s ballot at the same time as a youth activities levy &

that also draws from property taxes &

the committee was hesitant to put too much emphasis on the bond.

&

I think we could remove the stadium from the bond and give it to a booster club,&

committee member Kim Rooklyn said. &

I would just hate to see a $2 million project ruin the bond.&

The committee proposed that high school sports teams could use Southern Oregon University&

s stadium, and the committee thought money would be better spent to remodel the school&

s historic gymnasium.

The likely axe to a new stadium at the high school brought on other questions of how many facilities in the district need to be fixed and where money is most needed.

Lack of agreement on some issues drove the four-hour work session to plan another meeting to discuss key issues like a new gym and library and Helman Elementary School or expanding the middle school cafeteria, which school officials say is cramped and causing problems.

The proposed bond would constitute a $2 per 1,000 property tax rate for 12 years after its passage, pending taxpayers approve the bond in November.

Members of the Bond and Facilities Planning Committee slowly chipped away at items on the proposal in an attempt to bring the total package cost from about $54 million down to about $47 million.

Since many of the district schools are in need of repair, nearly half of the bond proposal is currently dedicated to health and safety measures. The question facing the committee was whether building repairs across the district would make sense if schools would need to be rebuilt in the near future.

School board member Ruth Alexander said massive funds to keep repairing buildings might scare community members more that simple replacement of antiquated buildings.

&

The criticisms I&

m hearing from the community are, &

145;we just did that&

or &

145;we just rebuilt that,&

&

Alexander said.

This question left some items on the table for the next work session: including moving a wall in the middle school cafeteria and how to go about replacing the gym and or library at Helman Elementary. The committee also decided to eliminate a $1.7 million dollar proposal to make the new Bellview school an extreme green building (holding up the highest government environmental standards).

The committee considered creating a subcommittee to deal with the huge health and safety budget and decide what is necessary.

&

Forty-seven percent of the money is going to health and safety, and I just can&

t tolerate that,&

committee member Rick Barth said.

Wednesday&

s meeting ended with fatigued members who decided to reconvene next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the middle school library. The committee will wait until June to present the proposal to the school board who can then approve it.

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