Letter: Asheville Primary School is worth fighting for

Graphic by Lori Deaton

In a December meeting, Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman proposed the closure and sale of the Asheville Primary School, a center of the West Asheville community that has educated thousands of our city’s youths for nearly 70 years.

Asheville Primary School is home to Asheville City School district’s only five-star public preschool and Montessori program. Its closure would displace over 100 preschoolers, permanently remove a Montessori school and further reduce Asheville’s overall early childhood learning capacity by displacing Head Start classrooms. This head-scratching proposal fundamentally undermines Buncombe County’s aim to achieve universal pre-K education.

With limited input from the community, no discussion with the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and no current plan for how ACS will achieve the county’s goal of universal pre-K, the ACS board is likely to rubber-stamp the closure soon. Shuttering the five-star program at APS cannot be undone and will forfeit state and federal funding for the Asheville Primary principal and support staff as well as millions of dollars from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund desperately needed for a new HVAC system and windows at Asheville Primary.

Meanwhile, Asheville City Schools is requesting a $2.7 million grant from the county to cover the cost of this reduction in early childhood learning in Asheville. Why a county grant intended to expand early childhood education would be used to reduce early childhood education should have any Asheville resident fuming [See “Room to Grow? ACS Preschool Changes Draw Commissioner, Community Critiques,” March 24, Xpress].

Expanding to universal early childhood education will not be possible without preserving Asheville’s stock of school buildings, including Asheville Primary. Spending nearly $3 million to achieve a net reduction in early childhood education is highly questionable and a blow to many parents wishing to enroll their children in ACS preschool next year and beyond.

Asheville Primary is worth fighting for. Concerned residents should contact the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and demand a signed memorandum of understanding with ACS that preserves all ACS buildings and pre-K classrooms before future funding is approved.

— Brooke Heaton


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Letter: Asheville Primary School is worth fighting for

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    I think they want to sell the property for a ‘high rise’ condo building! Offers abound for that spot. THINK of HOUSING , NOT education!

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.