Asheville City Schools’ Dec. 6 work session board brief

Press release from Asheville City Schools:

House Bill 400
During tonight’s Work Session of the Asheville City Board of Education, Chris Campbell, Attorney for the Board, shared more about House Bill 400.  He explained that, last week, the General Assembly passed House Bill 400, converting the Board from an appointed to elected body as well as expanding its membership from five to seven.  Four of the seats will be elected in 2022.  The three members appointed in 2021 – James Carter, Peyton O’Conner and George Sieburg – will complete their current terms, and their seats will move from appointed to elected beginning in 2024.

If you would like to serve our community by joining the Asheville City Board of Education, the filing period to run is December 6th thru NOON on Friday, December 17th.  The filing fee is $5, and candidate filing will be held in the conference room on the first floor at Election Services’ new location, 59 Woodfin Place.  To learn more information, click here.

PFA Architects Presentation 
PFA Architects’ Chip Howell presented an analysis of space utilization against current standards used by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction needed to build a new school.

Additionally, he gave a detailed presentation on each facility’s critical and high-priority needs as well as a breakdown of the cost and estimated escalation if the project was delayed three or five years.  He recommended that critical needs be addressed as soon as possible because they could disrupt operations if they were to fail, and high-priority projects should be completed within 3 to 5 years.

At this time, the in-progress combined costs of all Asheville City Schools’ critical and high priority needs equal $38,257,876.65. The three-year escalation is $49,735,239.65, and the five-year escalation is $57,386,814.97.

PFA is currently finalizing costs for a few more remaining items and will be submitting a completed report on Thursday, December 9th.  Therefore, districtwide totals based on combined project costs may increase.

Pre-K Information
Additionally, Susanna Smith, Director of the Preschool Program, gave a presentation.

She broke down each classroom by site, explaining:
-the total number of students it serves
-its costs
-its revenue sources (ie. development day, Head Start, NC Pre-K, scholarships, subsidy, tuition)
-its projected income based on 10 months of service from the revenue sources
-the difference, which is currently paid out of local funds

Including personnel, the classrooms cost $2,697,042.88.  The overall projected income of these classrooms is $1,127,572.00.  This means the difference currently paid out of local funds (which is money also used to support Kindergarten – 12th Grade), totals $1,569,470.88.

Additionally, Georgia Harvey, Chief Finance Office, shared two key points driven by the budget related to the Preschool Program:
-It will be necessary to reduce Pre-K classrooms if ACS does not receive sufficient funding from Buncombe County ECE Grant equal to or more than $1.5 million.
-ACS’s budget will determine the number of Pre-K classrooms that should continue based on state, grant and tuition funding.

Asheville Primary School/Executive Summary of the DRAFT APS Study
April Dockery, Executive Director of Crisis Management and Operations, provided the Board with an executive summary of the Drafted APS Study.  The study is divided into the following sections:

-Reasons to consider the “closure” of AshevillePrimary School in its current location effective in the 2022-2023 School Year
-Possible hardships resulting from closing Asheville Primary School
-Public Hearing Summaries

The drafted study as presented to the Board this evening is currently available on the district website.

Additionally, I presented the Board with a brief analysis of the “ACS Staff and Families are Invited to Share YOUR Feedback with the Board” form.  The redacted results in their entirety can be found here.

Update to the December 7th Public Hearing 
As part of tonight’s meeting, the Board discussed options regarding Asheville Primary School.  Per previous communication, the proposals under consideration included leaving the school at its current location or relocating the school to share a campus and facilities with either Hall Fletcher Elementary School or Montford North Star Academy.

After receiving presentations regarding school facility needs, the status of the Asheville City Schools Preschool Program, a draft study regarding APS as well as parent input, the Board is requesting additional information and public input on three options for APS:
-Leave the school in place
-Relocate the School
-Close APS with students enrolling in other ACS elementary schools as early as the 2022-23 school year.

Therefore, during the December 7th Public Hearing, the Board will hear public input on all three options.  The meeting will be held in the Board Room located at 85 Mountain Street beginning at 5:00 PM.

Additionally, public input on this issue will be permitted both in-person and virtually during the public comment portion of the Board’s December 13th Regular Meeting.  Public comment will take place prior to the Board taking any final action regarding Asheville Primary School.

Stakeholders are also invited to email comments to

Budget Update 
Georgia Harvey presented Board Members with an ESSER Funding Review.

Additionally, she explained that the state legislature can adjust which education programs receive money raised by the lottery  However, as of November 23, 2021, Asheville City Schools’ lottery funding can only be spent on capital needs.  The district has $926,519.38 available in lottery funding specific to the Public School Building Capital Fund.

Based on PFA’s Draft Report, she also provided the Board with a facilities capital cost based on school enrollment.

Volunteer/Substitute Update 
Dr. Kim Dechant, Director of Recruitment and Induction, also provided an update about our partnership with ESS.
To apply to be a sub, visit and click apply.
Then, enter the District or County you’re interested in working in.

Dr. Dechant also shared that the pay has increased for substitute teachers. NC Licenced substitutes make $125 a day while non-licensed substitute teachers make $100 daily. Teacher Assistant Substitutes make $80 per day.

Substitute teachers are paid weekly.

When it comes to volunteers, Dr. Dechant shared that they can visit our website for more information.  A background check is required and volunteers must go through the mandatory training.  Furthermore, in-person volunteers are at the discretion of each school’s principal.

And, as a reminder, the Board of Education will be hosting its Public Hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, December 7th.  Following that, the Board will be holding its next Regular Meeting on Monday, December 13th.  Both meetings will be held at 5:00 PM in the Board Room located at 85 Mountain Street.  The meetings can also be streamed on the district’s YouTube page.

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