ASHLAND – Russ Westerhold has been appointed to the Ashland-Greenwood Board of Education.
Westerhold was sworn in during the school board’s regular meeting Monday night. He replaces Tom Walsh, who resigned in July after taking a position as Ashland-Greenwood Superintendent Jason Libal’s administrative assistant.
Westerhold will fill out the rest of Walsh’s term, which ends in January 2022.
Board Member Eric Beranek was appointed secretary of the board, the position Walsh held before he resigned from the board.
Prior to being sworn in, Westerhold was in the audience as the school board discussed the 2019-20 budget. Libal said he is recommending the board keep the overall levy at 99.5 cents per $100 of valuation, the same as last year.
Within the overall levy is the general fund, bond fund and building fund levies. Libal proposed lowering the general fund levy to 84.5 cents per $100 of valuation, down two cents from the 2018-19 budget.
“I would advocate for lowering the general fund (levy),” he said.
Combined with an estimated 6 percent increase in property valuation in the district, the decrease in the general fund levy will give the district flexibility with the bond and building funds, Libal said. The hope is to build up funds to possibly offset a potential bond issue the district faces to deal with increasing enrollment and limited space.
“With valuation being strong, it gives us the flexibility and latitude to get some work done here,” he said.
Libal also told the board that the district will get less state aid dollars in 2019-20. Last year, the district received $1.1 million in state aid. The amount will be $922,000 this year, he said.
A public hearing on the budget and a tax request hearing will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. The board will approve the budget on Sept. 9.
The board also approved transferring money from the general fund to the depreciation fund and the activities fund.
Libal said the depreciation fund is used for replacement items and he wants to have $2 million in the fund, the same as they started with in the beginning of 2018-19.
A total of $20,000 was transferred to the activity fund because the revenue created by admission fees and tournaments does not cover expenses year after year, Libal said.
“It’s kind of hard to make ends meet,” he said.
This is standard practice with many other school district, Libal added.
In board reports, administrators reported an increase in enrollment as the second week of the school year gets underway.
Elementary Principal Teresa Bray said there are 28 more students in the building compared to 2018-19.
“We’re starting the year with more kids than we ended with,” she said.
The middle school/high school has 12 more students so far, but that number is already changing, said Secondary Principal Brad Jacobsen.
On Monday, another eighth grader showed up, he said, and a family called inquiring about enrolling their two children – one in eighth grade and the other a sophomore.
“It just continues to grow,” Jacobsen said.