A discussion that’s been simmering on and off since at least 1963 has resurfaced thanks to a new state law requiring Buncombe County’s two school districts to consider consolidation. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will consider taking the lead to solicit a new study analyzing the feasibility of merging Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 17.
If approved, staff will issue a request for proposals from private firms beginning in November, according to a staff presentation. The chosen firm will conduct academic, operational and financial analyses of the two districts, as well as study community impacts of a potential merger.
While Buncombe’s state legislative delegation and county commissioners have expressed support of the consolidation study, neither school district has officially expressed a desire to merge. The county considered reviewing consolidation early in 2023, but decided to hold off after officials with ACS asked for time to find a new superintendent. Maggie Fehrman was named ACS superintendent in June.
In other news
Commissioners will hear an update from the Board of Equalization and Review, a board appointed by commissioners to hear appeals from residents related to property assessments.
In their 2022 session, the board heard 36 appeals including the approval of 25 late applications. All six residential real estate appeals were denied, according to the board’s presentation.
So far in 2023, there are 77 late applications, eight business personal property appeals and three exemptions for the board to review. Reviews are scheduled to begin Oct. 18.
Commissioners will also hear a presentation from Sheriff Quentin Miller on current crime data and priorities for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office. No details on the presentation were available at press time.
The consent agenda for the meeting contains seven items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- Increase the project budget for a Recreation Services master plan by $115,175 to include an open space plan and a greenways and trails master plan. The project’s proposed budget now totals $315,175.
- Approval of a contract with Vannoy Construction for more than $3.3 million to complete capital maintenance projects at A-B Tech. Construction is expected to start in early 2024. No new funding is required.
- First reading of a resolution to partner with MedTrust Medical Transport to provide convalescent, interagency and nonemergency ambulance transport in Buncombe County. If passed, a second reading is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 7 prior to final approval.
The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Prior to that meeting, the commissioners will hold a 3 p.m. briefing where they will discuss county personnel policies, among other items.
In-person public comment will be taken at the start of the regular meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in room 326 at 200 College St., Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and the regular meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.