A crossing guard will usher high school students across Siskiyou Boulevard after spring break, when music and physical education classes move to Lincoln Elementary during the upcoming renovation projects, Ashland High School Principal Jeff Schlecht announced at the school board meeting Monday night.




"This is a no-nonsense subject, a no-margin-for-error-type issue," he told the board, especially in light of the recent death of an SOU student after she was hit by a car while crossing the boulevard.




Pedestrian flags and a flashing light are already in place, but with around 100 students walking to Lincoln each class period, the district felt additional precaution was necessary.




All teachers will instruct students in crosswalk safety, and no student will be allowed to cross the street with earbuds or a cell phone in use, Schlecht said.




"We've got to educate our kids and get drivers to slow down," he said. "The crossing guard is the key piece."




The guard will be paid out of construction bond funds.




Beginning next year, Bellview Elementary students will also be shuffled during construction, with kindergarten and first grade students moving to Rivergate, a church on Garfield Street, and all other students sharing space at Ashland Middle School. Board members expressed interest in creating a temporary school zone around Rivergate to ensure the safety of those students.




Class sizes




The board also decided to delay creating a committee to study class sizes until next fall, when district administrators are more available to participate in the work.




Last month, the district hosted a work session about class size, where about a dozen parents came to express concern that the district was not meeting its goals for maximum class numbers, especially in the early elementary level.




The board will discuss the specifics of a class size task force, including the group's charge, in July. Committee members should be chosen by September, to begin work in October 2008 and present findings in the spring of 2009.




Board members stressed that the group should explore less-expensive options to lowering student-teacher ratios, such as classroom and parent assistants or creative scheduling, in addition to hiring more teachers. A board report projected a $500,000 cost increase for teacher salaries to meet the recommended class sizes.




"In general, we have seen reducing class size across the board costs a tremendous amount of money," board member Heidi Parker said. "It's not totally clear whether you get your money's worth."




Other recent examples of district task forces include establishing the K-8 John Muir School and bumping kindergarten instruction time from half to three-quarter days.




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