MARGINALIZED: Confronting the largest disparity between the performance of black and white students in the state, outgoing Asheville City Schools Superintendent Pam Baldwin says that shifting the system toward greater equity “is not ‘another thing’: It is the only thing.” Photo by Jack Sorokin

Asheville City Schools take aim at racial disparitie­s

State data show that the gap in academic achievement between white and black students in the Asheville City Schools is the largest in North Carolina. The district is launching a new initiative to address the persistent problem — but only time will tell whether this effort will succeed where so many have failed to show results.

OTTER-LY ENGAGING: The Nature Center’s otter inhabitants draw kids and adults alike to watch their antics, which can be playful, cuddly and athletic, all in the space of a few minutes. Photo courtesy of the WNC Nature Center

The incredible shrinking subsidy: WNC Nature Center achieves 3-year reduction goal in one year

When the WNC Nature Center learned the city of Asheville’s subsidy for the facility would shrink by more than half over three years, the environmental education attraction wasn’t immediately sure how it would make up the funding shortfall. But it didn’t take long to figure it out: the Nature Center met the three-year goal in only one year. The attraction is expanding to meet demand, and visitation is setting new records nearly every month.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Siblings Althea and Matthew Raiford will share lessons learned on their Brunswick, Ga. farm. The Raifords advocate specializing in a well-curated selection of crops and developing value-added products. Photo courtesy of the Organic Growers School

Organic Growers School’s Spring Conference builds sustainabi­lity, community

The Organic Growers School’s Spring Conference is hardly a new event: The annual gathering of farmers, gardeners, homesteaders and assorted sustainability seekers turns 24 this month. But organizers say those attending this year’s edition, whether they’re newbies or longtime conference regulars, will surely dig up some novel information.

UNION DAYS: Approximately 90 workers and organizers of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America, Local Div. No. 128 pose for a picture in April 1913. Despite North Carolina’s status as one of the least unionized states in the country, current-day local union chapters such as ATU 128, have a long history of organizing and advocating for workers’ rights in the Southern Highlands. Photo via the Norh Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville North Carolina

Labor pains: WNC unions at a crossroads

In Western North Carolina and across the country, labor unions seem to be a dying breed these days, and many local residents don’t seem overly concerned about it. Yet WNC’s complex history of unionization stretches back to the late 19th century. From high-profile labor disputes and the emergence of “right to work” laws to the […]

Mayor Esther Manheimer recognizes Steve Mitchell as the city's Volunteer of the Year. Photo by Virginia Daffron

State legislator moves to force Asheville’s hand on district elections

City Council moved ahead with plans to poll city voters on whether or not they’d like to see districts put in place for seats on the Council. Three new members of the city’s school Board of Education were appointed, and the issue of homestays in accessory dwelling units returned to the Council chamber.

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Council to pick Board of Education members on Feb. 28

Council will interview six candidates for three open spots on the five-member Asheville City Schools Board of Education on Feb. 28. The finalists — Yvette Jives, James Lee, Amy Ray, Joyce Brown, Patricia Griffin and Mary Ellen Lewis — were selected from 27 applicants who met residency requirements for seats on the board. Council is expected to announce the new board members during its regular meeting.