ASHLAND – Even before Superintendent Jason Libal was able to announce that Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools was abandoning plans to acquire a local trailer court, a group of residents thanked the Board of Education for saving their homes.
“Thank you to the school board for finally coming to a decision,” said Stacy Kolar, a resident of El Rancho Trailer Court in Ashland, at the beginning of the board’s monthly meeting Monday night.
Later in the meeting, during administrator reports, Superintendent Jason Libal said the school district has decided against acquiring property that includes the trailer court in order to build more facilities for the growing district.
“It’s been the consensus of the district that El Rancho is not the solution at this time,” said Libal.
In December, the school board held a public hearing to discuss plans to purchase the property from owner Brandon Parmer. Prior to that, they had made Parmer multiple offers for the land, which he refused, saying they were not taking into consideration net operating expenses or income generated by the trailer court when they were determining fair market value.
The El Rancho Trailer Court, located at 2101 Furnas Street, was built by Parmer’s grandmother, Marjorie Strode. Parmer received the property when Strode passed away.
During the December public hearing and at subsequent school board meetings, residents of El Rancho spoke out against the plan to buy the property. Many cited financial difficulties if they were forced to move from the trailer court.
The school board felt the El Rancho property was the best location to build a new school, Libal said in December. However, they are now looking at other locations.
“We are continuing our efforts to acquire property adjacent to the middle school/high school,” he told the board Monday night.
Kolar also thanked Libal for opening his door to the El Rancho residents to discuss the issue. At the December public hearing, the superintendent said he would gladly speak with the trailer court residents and any members of the public over the phone, by email or in person to discuss the situation.
“Thank you to Jason Libal for opening his door and letting us voice our concerns,” Kolar said.
El Rancho resident Jeffrey Basa promised the school board that he would help his neighbors fix up their homes to improve the trailer court’s appearance.
“We’ll do our best to clean up our community there,” he said.
After going into executive session, the board voted to authorize Libal and/or Board President Karen Stille to make an offer on real estate and enter into a purchase agreement on behalf of the school district consistent with the negotiating guidance provided to them by the board during the closed session.
The school board is not releasing the location of this property, Libal said.
In other action, the board opted to keep school breakfast and lunch prices the same as last year, at Libal’s recommendation.
“Our nutrition program is in good shape financially,” Libal said.
The federal government has required school districts to raise their prices at least 10 cents each year for the past several years, no matter what the program’s financial status, Libal said. This year, those rules have been relaxed, making the increase optional.
So Libal proposed keeping the prices at the 2018-19 level to help the school district’s families.
“We feel like we have to take advantage of that,” he said.