“The last three superintendents we’ve had here, including you, have not brought anything but mayhem to the school system,” declared Buncombe Commissioner Al Whitesides to Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman.
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.
The city’s proposed nondiscrimination ordinance is nearly identical to that passed 6-0 by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on April 20, which prompted extensive public comment from residents in both support and disagreement.
“If the rural children can’t do their classwork because of lack of internet access, then how are the parents going to get the information they need?”
“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.”
“Asheville City Schools owes a debt to the African American community. This debt must be paid forward; Stephens-Lee faculty offer a model.”
Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman disputed the account of a parent who said administrators failed to respond to repeated requests for information about what the closure of Asheville Primary School would mean to her daughter. After being provided with details by Xpress, Freeman spoke with Sara Shea on March 18.
“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.
Buncombe County would become the first local government in Western North Carolina to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance. Orange County and several municipalities have approved similar language after a statewide ban on such ordinances expired Dec. 1.
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.
Signed by Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman on Feb. 5, the agreement with Raleigh-based Forthright Advising drew the concern of Asheville City Board of Education member Joyce Brown during a Feb. 15 meeting of the board.
Daniel Withrow, president of the Asheville City Association of Educators, says that his organization had been preparing to make its first-ever endorsements for Asheville City Board of Education seats this year but was caught off guard when Asheville City Council voted to trim the candidate pool ahead of its posted schedule.
Gene Freeman, Asheville City Schools superintendent, gave contradictory statements regarding the potential sale of Asheville Primary School at several meetings over recent months. Xpress has also experienced delays in obtaining basic records of the school system’s discussions.
Members will discuss the final proposed guidelines to streamline future lodging development — and residents will have one last chance to weigh in — before the city’s hotel moratorium expires on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
New policies from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction recommend all elementary schools open for in-person learning under Plan A, which does not require 6-foot social distancing between students and teachers. Middle and high schools are encouraged to reopen in-person under Plan B, which requires 6-foot social distancing at all times.
“You can’t keep doing that year in and year out. You need to keep an eye on that,” external auditor Michael Wike told the Asheville City Board of Education about the school system’s spending at a Dec. 7 work session. “What happens when you don’t have a fund balance is almost like an individual living paycheck to paycheck: You can’t plan for the future whatsoever.”