EAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire school district has a new middle/high school principal after action this week by the Eau Claire school board.

New Buffalo High School social studies teacher Tracy Ripley is the new Eau Claire middle/high school principal after Chris Smedley resigned last month. She will start her new duties July 1 and will receive an annual salary of $85,000.

Superintendent Ann Shell said Ripley has been a teacher in New Buffalo for 17 years and has a strong background in curriculum and school improvement. Shell noted that Ripley was part of the team that helped New Buffalo students score top in the state on the M-STEP social studies test in 2017.

Ripley, 48, has some administrative experience filling in for the principal at New Buffalo on various occasions, and has just recently received her administrator certification, Shell said. Ripley has been active in the New Buffalo community over the years, and was the 1988 Miss New Buffalo.

In other staff news, board members hired Rachel Sverid as the middle/high school Spanish teacher. Shell said the middle/high school had been without a Spanish teacher for the 2018-19 school year with students having to rely on online lessons.

Conservative budget

This week’s board meeting also featured the adoption of the new 2019-20 general fund budget and the final 2018-19 general fund budget amendment. Shell said the new budget is based on a conservative enrollment number of 745 students. The most recent student count was 761 students in February.

“Last year we budgeted for too many students,” she said. “We’re being conservative this year. We’ve decided it’s OK to stay small if we do well what we do.”

The new budget calls for $8.9 million in revenue and $8.8 million in expenditures and a fund balance of over $300,000. The final 2018-19 budget amendment calls for $8.8 million in revenue and $8.7 million in expenditures.

Shell said that while the fund balance isn’t where she and the board would like it to be, it’s going in the right direction. The district had run a budget deficit as recently as the 2017-18 school year.

Board members also approved the summer migrant program, which starts today and ends in early August. She said it’s too soon to know how many migrant students the district will serve this summer.

The 2019-20 school calendar also was approved, and it replaces a number of early release days with half days. Shell said the school year runs from the day after Labor Day until June 4, 2020. She said it looks like individual districts will get the choice in coming years to start school before Labor Day, if they wish.