“We need new blood on the school board.”
In preparation for the primary election of Tuesday, May 17, Xpress sent questions to all candidates in contested races representing Buncombe County voters. Responses from candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, N.C. General Assembly, Buncombe County-level races and Asheville City Council are all collected here.
Candidates in the Asheville City Board of Education 2022 primary race share their positions with Xpress.
The Asheville City Board of Education asked attorney Chris Campbell to speak on the desegregation order’s history and legal status during a Jan. 28 meeting. While the board took no action, Chair James Carter indicated that members would consider asking the court to change or end the order in the coming months.
“If we’d had an inclusive process, there could have been a viable solution.”
“As if our city needed one more example of citizen voices being sidelined, on Aug. 24, Asheville City Council pushed through the nomination of George Sieburg for the Asheville City Board of Education just hours after the vacancy was known to anyone.”
“Now ACS is proposing a turn away from integration without offering any tangible reason for the change.”
“It is past time to significantly update or eliminate the two-tiered enrollment system and officially recognize and figure out transportation for “out-of-district” students who live in Asheville Housing Authority projects and economically depressed areas in the city of Asheville that are locked out of the legacy district boundaries.”
The potential closure and sale of the APS campus had drawn intense community pushback since being initially recommended as a cost-saving measure by Superintendent Gene Freeman on Dec. 7.
Under current projections, even if the system taps into the entirety of its available reserves to cover expenses for fiscal year 2021-22, it would still face $865,000 in cuts to balance its budget. And if expenses and revenue trends continue on the same path, the necessary cuts for fiscal year 2022-23 could exceed $2 million.
At its first meeting since the March 23 appointments of James Carter, Jacquelyn Carr McHargue and Peyton O’Conner by Asheville City Council, the Asheville City Board of Education’s members chose Carter as chair and McHargue as vice chair in a pair of split decisions.
“I’m looking forward to the day we can have a centerpiece in our city that reflects Asheville today,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. “And I’m proud to be part of the Council that will make this change.”
Removing Asheville’s Vance Monument will cost between $114,150 and $495,000, according to five bids submitted by North Carolina-based construction and demolition companies.
“The path we’re on right now is a collision that puts us backwards and actually takes classrooms offline,” said Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, regarding the Asheville City Schools plan to relocate preschool classrooms from Asheville Primary School to other elementary schools and Asheville Housing Authority developments.
“Families of color have unfairly limited elementary school options for their children because the district is mandated to maintain antiquated racial quotas that were put into place 30 years ago,” writes Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman.
Following a pair of votes for different methods of picking the school board at Council’s meeting of March 9, the final say on its composition now rests with the N.C. General Assembly, which must pass legislation to enact any change.
Two proposals are up for consideration. One outlines a request for a fully elected school board; the other sets up a hybrid model in which Council would appoint two members and allow ACS district residents to elect the other three.
“This really needs to be in the regulations of the Asheville City Council: ‘Only applicants independent of the school system will be considered for the positions of school board.'”
“I’m really struggling with this process as a parent, as a councilor,” said Asheville City Council member Sage Turner, as her colleagues considered how they would appoint three members of the Asheville City Board of Education. “I’m really struggling with us not listening to teachers.”
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners directed health staff to set aside 975 vaccine doses per week — half of the weekly 1,950 doses that North Carolina has been sending the county — for school employees starting Wednesday, Feb. 24.