The Astoria School District unanimously decided Wednesday to support an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Astoria to start a community garden at Capt. Robert Gray School near the tennis courts. 

The project will be managed by Astoria Parks and Recreation.

The board also voted to accept new graduation requirements passed down from the state, meant to help students who chronically struggle with traditional requirements. The requirements create new extended and modified diplomas, which will require fewer core requirement courses - math, science, reading, writing - to graduate.

Superintendent Craig Hoppes said the two new diplomas are meant for students who, because of developmental disabilities, accidents or other circumstances, cannot complete a traditional diploma.

The board also decided to spread the payments on its soon-to-be newly refinanced bond evenly over seven years of repayment. The bond needs to be paid off in 2019. The board recently hired Seattle-Northwest Securities to refinance an existing bond at significantly lower interest rates tied to the weak economy.

Board members will know how much that yearly payment will be by March 6, by which time Seattle-Northwest will have sold the newly refinanced bond to a lending firm.

The original bond, passed by voters in 2000 for $21.6 million, financed construction of the new Lewis and Clark Elementary School and a new science center, gym and student commons at Astoria High School. It also funded the renovation of Astoria Middle School's track facilities and other upgrades at all the district's buildings.

The board first refinanced the bond in 2002, saving taxpayers an estimated $779,296. The "advance" refinancing the board used was only allowed once by federal tax rules. After refinancing, the bond costs taxpayers about $2.50 for every $1,000 in their home's assessed value.

School board members also passed a resolution to have Hoppes sign an intergovernmental agreement with the other four superintendents to keep Clatsop County's interdistrict transfer policy in place.

There is a new state policy from the Legislature that would limit transfers to between March and April 1. Clatsop County districts allow transfers throughout the year.

Superintendents in the county are also concerned that new state policies place no requirements on new transfers for attendance and academic effort.

The school board next meets March 14. Before the regular meeting, it will hold a forum to get more information on Oceanview Charter School. The board must decide whether or not to sponsor the school being started by local residents Thomas and Donna Freeland.

The forum starts 5:30 p.m. The regular board meeting starts 7:30 p.m. Both will be at Gray School, 785 Alameda Ave.