Announcement from Asheville City Schools:
December 8, 2020
Good Morning Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families. This is Dr. Gene with an important update about your school community.
During yesterday’s meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education, I made several recommendations regarding the future of our Montessori Program and the Asheville Primary campus. Most importantly, please know:
- We will be continuing the Montessori program for our currently enrolled students and will be examining data for a potential future expansion/continuation of the program beyond the 2026-2027 school year. For the 2021-2022 school year, new enrollment will be limited to siblings of current Montessori students as we transition to our new space. However, we will revisit community open-enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year.
- We will maintain Pre-K for the students currently enrolled in Asheville City Schools’ program. In order to enroll new students, the district needs additional classroom space; therefore, our ability to enroll new Pre-K students for the 2021-2022 school year will be based on space and capacity.
- No one is losing their job; all staff members are maintaining their employment within Asheville City Schools.
Relocating Current Classrooms:
As I’ve shared during our town halls, the Asheville Primary campus presents multiple facility and safety challenges, and, unfortunately, funding is not available to fully renovate our current building or continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for yearly, costly quick fixes and temporary bandaids.
Therefore, beginning in Fall 2021, Asheville Primary’s Montessori Program will be relocated to the Hall Fletcher Elementary School campus. It will become a program within a school.
The district will maintain our current Pre-K classrooms at Isaac Dickson Elementary School and Ira B. Jones Elementary School. We will continue to have one Pre-K classroom at Hall Fletcher Elementary. The other Pre-K classroom will become a Montessori Pre-K/Kindergarten Early Childhood Education classroom. The district’s Auxiliary Department is currently assessing facilities both within our district and in our community to determine where our current Asheville Primary Pre-K classrooms could be relocated. In order to give families time to prepare, our goal is to announce new Pre-K sites by the end of January 2021.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:
Anticipating this news will spark many questions, my team, along with Asheville Primary Principal, Tima Williams, ACS Preschool Program Director, Susanna Smith, and Hall Fletcher Elementary School Interim Principal, Carrie Buchanan, have come up with the following answers. However, our hope is that this will be an open dialogue, so if you have additional questions, please email our Executive Director of Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: Why was Hall Fletcher Elementary School selected as the new site for the Montessori Program?
- The current facility and safety needs of Asheville Primary School is where our problem lies. When considering which campus would provide the smoothest transition, Hall Fletcher Elementary School was selected for a number of reasons.
- Due to the unique layout of Hall Fletcher Elementary School, all six Montessori classrooms will be able to stay on the same floor, meaning the unique community and integrity Asheville Primary has fostered over the past three and half years will remain intact.
- It’s an excellent opportunity for two great staffs to combine their resources as they continue to support the students of West Asheville and beyond.
- Both schools are within West Asheville. Therefore, Asheville Primary’s current, local community partners will have the opportunity to continue to support the program.
- Like Asheville Primary, Hall Fletcher is an elementary school. Relocating the program to its campus is developmentally appropriate.
- The Montessori methods compliment Hall Fletcher’s magnet theme of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM).
- Hall Fletcher extends to 4th and 5th Grade, meaning siblings could remain on the same campus.
Question: With its move to Hall Fletcher Elementary School, will the Montessori Program be expanding to 4th or 5th Grade for the 2021-2022 school year?
- At this time, Montessori Programming will not be extended to 4th or 5th Grade. After we finish with COVID issues, I think it’s important to collect our own data and have a true longitudinal study that gauges the program’s success. We have strong anecdotal information as well as a positive school culture, but I think it’s important to have empirical data when making future decisions.
- Should your family select the option, please know there is capacity at Hall Fletcher Elementary School to accommodate all rising Asheville Primary School 4th Graders. Therefore, if your family has multiple children currently enrolled within the Montessori Program, they could continue to attend school together.
Question: I have a rising Pre-K student. Can I enroll them in the Montessori program on Hall Fletcher’s campus?
- For the 2021-2022 school year, new enrollment will be limited to siblings of current Montessori students as we transition to our new space.
- We will revisit community open-enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year.
- As shared, Asheville City Schools is committed to continuing the Montessori Program through the 2026-2027 school year. This means all currently enrolled students have the opportunity to complete the program in its entirety. Any families enrolling students in the Montessori Program for the 2021-2022 school year and beyond will be required to sign an attestation form noting they understand the program may conclude prior to their child’s completion. As previously shared, expansion and a continuation beyond the 2026-2027 school year will be contingent on collected data.
Question: How many Pre-K classrooms will the district have during the 2021-2022 school year?
- The number of available classrooms across the district that can be retrofitted to accommodate the unique guidelines set forth by the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Learning will determine how many the district can have.
- The district is also exploring the possibility of partnering with Asheville Housing Authority to create community-based Pre-K classrooms.
Question: Will Asheville City Schools have a staffing surplus? Will anyone be losing their job?
- No. Regardless of whether they work within Hall Fletcher Elementary School, the Montessori Program or Pre-K Program, all of our current staff members will maintain employment within Asheville City Schools.
- There is a possibility of surplus or duplicate staff. The district’s leadership team will work closely with both principals and the Preschool Director to determine best placements for staff.