A 65 percent "yes" vote on the Youth Activities and Academics Levy was cause for celebration for parents, administrators and school supporters Tuesday night.

"It proves once again that Ashland is the place to live," said high school parent John Javna, whose children both benefit from the current levy. His daughter is involved in the drama program, and his son plays varsity basketball and edits the school paper.

"We understand the impact of a good education, and we understand our responsibility to provide the children of the community with the best possible opportunities," he said.

The new levy, which taxes the entire school district instead of just the city, is expected to bring in $500,000 to $800,000 more than the approximate $2.4 million earned by the current levy, said Superintendent Juli Di Chiro, who joined the post election celebration sporting a Grizzlies sweatshirt.

"For the first time in seven years, we'll be able to put together a budget without any cuts," she said. "There are no guarantees, of course."

In the past, budget cuts have hovered around $500,000 each year, she said. When the budget process begins in February, any cuts will likely be in response to declining enrollment and should not affect any educational or extra-curricular programs. For the first time, levy money can be used to support core academic programs in addition to athletics and other extra-curricular activities.

Campaign members said they felt confident the levy would pass as the 8 p.m. election deadline approached.

"We're going to get a 65 percent 'yes' vote, guaranteed. I'm feeling real good about this," said campaign member Chuck Keil. "Even before the phone banks started (Monday) night, we had 50 percent in the bank."

The election required a 50 percent turnout in addition to a majority vote to pass. Unofficial results on the county Web site this morning put turnout at 65 percent.

"We're very grateful to our Ashland voters, but this isn't about us. It's about the kids," he said.

Many of the campaign supporters have children in school activities supported by the levy.

Campaign manager Marylee Oddo's son is in the middle school jazz band and her daughter signed up for the high school bowling team. Board member Keith Massie brought his eighth-grade son Parker, who plays in the middle school marimba ensemble, to the celebration.

Although he and his friends didn't discuss details of the levy, Parker said they knew the election results could affect them.

"They won't talk about the actual tax, but they'll say 'I don't know what I would do if this was cancelled,'" he said.

Carol Davis, who co-chaired the election committee for the school construction bond last November, has a son involved in the middle school television station.

"We're lucky we live in a very supportive community," she said, especially in light of the $46 million bond voters approved for the schools just one year ago.

Superintendent Di Chiro echoed the supporters' feeling of gratitude.

"We understand our community makes a sacrifice, and that's not a sacrifice many communities are willing to make," she said.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or . To post a comment on this story, go to .