A SEAT AT THE TABLE: Asheville High School Principal Jesse Dingle discusses the listening project with student Ana Lechman, who has volunteered to conduct some of the interviews. Photo by Leslie Boyd

City schools listen as pupils speak up

While it makes logical sense that students who’ve spent years attending Asheville City Schools would know better than anyone what is and isn’t working to promote their educational success, asking those students for input is nonetheless a radical proposition. That’s not stopping the system and the Asheville City Schools Foundation from carrying out The Listening Project to allow educators to learn from students’ experiences and insights.

GET UP AND DANCE: Asheville City School's director of human resources Mark Dickerson, aka "Dr. DJ Mark," dances with students during this year's anti-bullying rally. Photo courtesy of Asheville City Schools

Buncombe County schools teach strategies­, raise awareness about cyberbully­ing

Cyberbullying is an issue that comes up all too often. It can include any type of intimidation with electronics or internet use, from texting to posting on social media. Research shows that it has doubled among middle and high schoolers in the U.S. from 2007 to 2016 — from 18 to 34 percent. But research also shows that North Carolina has the second lowest rate of cyberbullying — 30 percent, higher only than Massachusetts at 23 percent. Since October is National Bullying Prevention Month, Asheville City Schools held a rally to create awareness of the issue.

SCHOOL DAZE: Shown here in a 2008 photo, Eben Heasley is a long-time educator at Evergreen Community Charter School. Though he says he loves the teaching profession, Heasley says he's planning to leave it for a second career that offers a better balance of schedule, stress and compensation. Photo courtesy of Evergreen Community Charter School

Burned out: Preserving Asheville’­s teacher corps

When seasoned teachers leave the classroom, everybody suffers. Students lose out on the benefits of the educators’ experience, school systems struggle to find and train replacements and the larger community often mourns the departure of a valued contributor with established relationships. While Asheville and Buncombe County public schools have lower teacher turnover than in other parts of the state, retaining and attracting the best teachers is increasingly challenging.

MARGINALIZED: Confronting the largest disparity between the performance of black and white students in the state, outgoing Asheville City Schools Superintendent Pam Baldwin says that shifting the system toward greater equity “is not ‘another thing’: It is the only thing.” Photo by Jack Sorokin

Asheville City Schools take aim at racial disparitie­s

State data show that the gap in academic achievement between white and black students in the Asheville City Schools is the largest in North Carolina. The district is launching a new initiative to address the persistent problem — but only time will tell whether this effort will succeed where so many have failed to show results.

COUNTY BUDGET APPROVED: The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a $413,574,951 budget along party lines during its Tuesday, June 21, meeting. Pictured are Democratic Commissioners Holly Jones, David Gantt, Brownie Newman and Ellen Frost.

Commission­ers approve budget; ax proposed tax cut, gun range

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners wrapped up the budget season during its Tuesday, June 21, meeting by approving a $413,574,951 spending plan for fiscal year 2017. During a more than five hour meeting Commissioner Tim Moffitt proposed an alternate budget, that would lower the property tax rate, but it was shoot down, via party lines, in favor of the approved budget.

Nonprofit agencies will make their case for funding from Buncombe County's upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2018. A total of 46 nonprofits are asking for an aggregate of almost $11 million.

Concerns about attracting­, retaining teachers and budget requests highlight Buncombe County commission­ers meeting

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners is approaching the homestretch for finalizing a budget for Fiscal Year 2017. During its meeting on Tuesday, May 31, the board heard concerns about attracting and retaining teachers amid budget requests from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools.