Ashland City Councilor Greg Lemhouse is on the right track with his plan to award scholarships to Ashland High School graduates who attend SOU, but the idea could use a little fine-tuning.
The plan was to set aside $50,000 a year in the city budget, to be divided equally among all qualifying graduates. Applicants would need to have attended Ashland High School for three years, gain admission to SOU, and use the scholarship money the year following their graduation.
The idea was to encourage graduates to stay in town for college, to attract families with children to Ashland, and even to encourage students living outside the district to enroll in Ashland schools. Those may be worthwhile goals, but they reveal the fundamental flaw in Lemhouse's plan.
He wants to pay for the scholarships with a property tax increase of 2 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation. But the Ashland City Council cannot levy that tax for the entire school district, which is much larger than the city limits of Ashland. So only city residents would pay it. Even if the district as a whole levied the tax — which would require a public vote — families living outside the district still would not pay it.
It's hardly fair to expect only city residents or only district residents to pay for scholarships for all students, regardless of where they live.
If Lemhouse can find a way to fund his plan that is fair to everyone, it would be worth a look.