I was pleased to read about the advances that Buncombe County has made in increasing high-school graduation rates [“Making the Grade,” Feb. 9, Xpress]. Thanks for covering this important story. Most children in our community attend public schools. The success and well-being of our entire community hinge on the quality of our public schools and their ability to graduate students ready to work and participate in our democracy.
This effort, along with many other important initiatives, is making a difference in the chances for success of the most vulnerable children in our community. Likewise, there are so many great things happening in the Buncombe County and Asheville City Schools that benefit all children. As a member of the board of directors of the Asheville City Schools Foundation, I can point to our work to provide artists-in-residence to every school, to extend learning through high-quality after-school programming and to make the classroom experience relevant and exciting with technology that allows for true experimentation and exploration at our high school.
Many in our community are not aware of the devastating effects that legislation currently being considered will have on our public schools. One proposal would fund only one school district per county, and force a merger of the Asheville City and Buncombe County schools. If this happens, we would lose the ability to tailor programs, like the dropout-prevention program you covered, to the communities we serve. We oppose drastic budget cuts that will force a return to the one-size-fits-all education from which we have come so far.
Our community needs to speak loudly to our N.C. General Assembly at this time and send a clear message that we need funding for our city and county districts, and we expect legislators to preserve the taxes that are currently in place so that our schools can continue to care for our children.
To find out more, attend the forum at Asheville High School on Thursday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit ashevillecityschools.net.
— Betsey Russell