Local political campaign manager and prior state Senate candidate Veronika Gunter will “create and lead the implementation of a public relations strategy that takes into account the public perception and community dynamics, leverages existing resources and is remarkable for being clearly and consistently communicated,” according to an independent contractor agreement approved by the Asheville City Board of Education on June 27.
Incumbent Asheville City Board of Education members Shaunda Sandford and Martha Geitner faced tough questions from Asheville City Council at an interview session on March 26. But at Council’s regular meeting that same evening, the two were unanimously reappointed to four-year terms on the board. James Carter was selected to fill a two-year vacancy created by the resignation of board member James Lee.
A group representing government, education, business and nonprofit organizations is coalescing to form a community response to a severe racial achievement gap in Asheville City Schools. But it’s not yet clear how the initiative will define its goals and approach — and what resources it can attract to fund the effort.
“Oversight in this kind of system — where the board is appointed by a body with no regulatory authority, in a process closed to school employees, families and the community as a whole — is more than a little messed up. It is completely unaccountable, open to all kinds of corruption and anti-democratic, not to mention a lousy use of resources.”
Our community has learned a lot about the limits of open government law over the past year, as indictments of former Buncombe County employees Wanda Greene, Mandy Stone, Jon Creighton and Michael Greene revealed corruption and embezzlement concealed from both the public and the media over many years.
With James Lee opting out mid-term to take a job in another state, Asheville City Council will soon select at least one new member to serve on a board that will be compelled to turn the ship around. Two other members, Martha Geitner and board Chair Shaunda Sandford, are completing their first terms on the board and seeking reappointment. Meanwhile, in a process that will play out in the coming weeks, 11 other community members have applied to be appointed.
“I think you can see by the turnout here, the phone calls to City Council, our emails, our response, that Vance in general — I don’t speak for every parent here or every student — does not feel like this is a win-win,” said Vance parent Marissa Brooks at the Feb. 27 meeting.
“As parents, community members and taxpayers, we insist that our concerns about this project be heard and respected.”
“Our data tells us that we are doing a disservice to our black students, and you can’t say it any plainer than that,” said Shaunda Sandford, chair of the Asheville City Board of Education.