Letter writer: Hall Fletcher school restructuring needs more thought

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The [Asheville City Schools] school district has proposed to convert Hall Fletcher Elementary into a fourth-eighth grade STEAM school and Asheville City Preschool into a sister school for pre-K through third grade to accommodate for growing enrollment as soon as next school year.

Restructuring is not just a logistical matter of space, as Hall Fletcher is not just a building. Hall Fletcher is a garden, a work of art, a chessboard, a music hall, a work in progress. It’s a community. When I walk into that school as a teaching artist, every person I pass asks how I’m doing. The principal pauses from helping a student to thank me. I feel noticed and appreciated, and I see the students feel that and thrive in it.

Hall Fletcher has, by far, the highest percentage of students on free and reduced lunch in the district. The school has taken on various innovative programs to nurture students and lessen the achievement gap. Dividing the school as proposed would disrupt these programs and their long-term progress. As a further setback, NYU research shows that moving schools has long-term negative impact on students’ academic performance. And while classrooms can be replicated, that sense of community those students are thriving in is not so easily relocated.

The strength and heart of Hall Fletcher’s community could be seen at [last] Tuesday’s forum, as nearly 300 teachers, students, families, volunteers, neighbors and allies from other schools flooded the auditorium to support an undivided Hall Fletcher.

Other options for restructuring, which can be found under the ACS Restructuring Initiative at ashevillecityschools.net, also consider repurposing the Montford campus that previously housed the Randolph Learning Center. These options bring their own complications, and chair of the board Peggy Dalman claimed, “There is no one that rises to the top.”

It is not just the option but the process that the community is urging the board to reconsider.  The process can better inform and involve the entire school district community. It can slow down, bringing in mobile classrooms if necessary or placing a moratorium on new out-of-district enrollment to allow more time for the restructuring process.

Hall Fletcher is making progress that, several years ago, no one thought possible. Rather than breaking that up, let’s include its innovative, out-of-the-box thinkers in finding a solution. Rather than setback, let this be an opportunity for progress for the whole school district.

The school board will hold another open meeting on Feb. 16.

— Laura Boffa

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9 thoughts on “Letter writer: Hall Fletcher school restructuring needs more thought

  1. Guy Newton

    Could I suggest an alternative? Keep all present grade levels but add one grade level each year to provide continuity through middle school. This is a demand that most parents make in choosing a charter school and there is no reason other than “tradition” to keep traditional schools at such a disadvantage. Ideally a school community should be built and maintained even through 12th grade. Think about it.

  2. Yep

    Get YOUR children OUT of government screwls as fast as you can! They will thank you dearly forever!

    • boatrocker

      Yea, because home schooled kids who are brainwashed into thinking the Earth is 6,000 years old and evolution is a lie are so well adjusted.
      Don’t even get me started on the books that home schooled parents burn in their front yards so their kids can’t gain critical thinking skills.

      Nothing like a home schooled kid who can stay home all day without any friends so he/she can help out with household chores like burying assault rifles and ammo in oil drums for when Obama comes for you.

      Private schooled kids also need school nurses to deal with chronic affluenza.

      Public schools are just fine, except for that pesky GOP standardized testing thing, because yay No Child Left Behind, and let’s treat children like factory workers.

        • boatrocker

          How true.

          It must be awful having your kids come home from public schools and tell you about learning about oh… sciencey stuff like geology, carbon dating to determine the age of rocks, fossil fuels and greenhouse effects, not to mention those whiny American Indians, ex slaves and others who dare to criticize this perfect union.

          Plus, now that public schools can’t shove one brand of prayer down their young and impressionable throats, how will they ever know right from wrong?

  3. Yep

    or at one of the growing numbers of collective homeschools and private schools available to all in the area…it’s becoming a
    disservice to your children to send them to the government for ‘education’.

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