The D.C. school board voted last night to spend $25,000 to support the Young Audiences arts program, despite an earlier recommendation by the board's education committee against the expenditure.

The Young Audiences program, which has operated in D.C. schools for two years under a Mobil Corp. grant, requested the $25,000 after Mobil ended its sponsorship. The program, which operates in 37 states, takes theatrical performers and artists into the public schools.

But school administrators asked the board's education committee to reject the request, saying they were concerned that the donation would set a precedent for other groups to apply for funds.

Most organizations that provide services for the D.C. schools are not funded by the board, officials said. The education committee rejected the request, but it was reintroduced in the finance committee, which supported it.

In the meantime, students started planning ways to raise money to continue the program. Last year, Young Audiences held 833 programs in 119 D.C. schools.

In other action, the board approved a strongly worded letter addressed to Council Chairman David A. Clarke, protesting his recent proposal to change mandatory retirement rules for teachers.

Clarke's bill proposes changes in the criteria used to waive mandatory retirement of school employes.

In the letter, school board President R. David Hall said the board "believes that your introduction of this legislation represents an unwarranted and unwelcome intrusion into its exclusive domain and thus feels compelled to speak out against your action . . . .

"Any such change in retirement criteria . . . can only be initiated by the board, not by the council."