ASHLAND – Although the item was not on the agenda, an El Rancho trailer court resident spoke about the Ashland-Greenwood School District’s attempts to purchase land at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.
Stacy Kolar, a resident of El Rancho trailer court, told the school board that the residents there would like answers soon as to whether or not the property will be purchased.
In December, a public hearing was held on a plan to purchase the property from owner Brandon Parmer. At that hearing, Parmer stated he had not accepted the district’s offer.
In January, more than 30 El Rancho residents attended a school board meeting where a dozen people spoke out against the land acquisition proposal. Since then, some of the residents have met with Superintendent Jason Libal to further discuss the matter.
Kolar asked the board to give them an idea of when the final decision would be made because many residents need to know if they should move ahead on improvements to their homes.
“We would like to try to get it narrowed down to a time frame,” Kolar said.
But the board does not know when that decision will be made, said Dave Nygren, school board member.
“We working on it as fast as we can,” he said. “We’re trying to get some decisions made going forward.”
School Board President Karen Stille said the district is exploring other properties as well as the El Rancho site.
“I can definitely tell you we have not made any definite plans at this point,” she added.
The district is in need of more property due to overcrowding. Libal has stated in the past that the elementary and middle school buildings are over capacity and the high school is near capacity, and there is more growth expected in the very near future. The school board hired DLR Group to work on a plan to enlarge the campus.
Another item that deals with enrollment growth was on the agenda. The board voted to approve option enrollment capacity for 2019-20 that closes all but 11th and 12th grade to option students.
“We’re pretty much closed across the board,” said Libal.
Option enrollment students live outside of the school district and must request to attend Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools. Last October, the board approved limiting option enrollment in all but the junior and senior classes. It was the first time such stringent restrictions had been adopted by the district.
The administration team went through enrollment for 2018-19 and projected numbers for the upcoming school year to determine option capacity, Libal said.
One of the elements they looked at was the fact that the school district just graduated a small class of only 60 students, while most of the younger grades are much larger. A new residential subdivision currently under construction (Whitetail Estates), plus new homes being built in other areas of town were also considered in the decision.
“I think that’s going to be the trend,” Libal said.
Space is at a premium, Libal said. There are three middle school classrooms that are being shared by teachers at this time, he explained.
At the elementary building, one of the fourth grade sections is using a converted resource room as their classroom. Elementary Principal Teresa Bray said this room is considerably smaller than the other fourth grade classrooms.
“So it won’t allow as many students in that room,” she added.
In other action, the board approved offering a three-year contract to Libal. Libal’s first contract, which was also three years, is nearing its end.
“I will be excited if the board will have me back for three years as well,” he said before the vote.