Two people speaking during public comment revealed brewing tensions around critical race theory and sexuality education in the Asheville City Schools district.
Asheville City Schools still needs to fill about 50 positions for the school year that starts Monday, Aug. 29. With only 18 of 29 ACS bus routes staffed to roll, some of the system’s youngest students may need to board the bus as early as 6:45 a.m.
Asheville City Schools maintains its increased preschool tuition — as much as $275 per month for some families — are in line with those of other local programs.
Requests outlined by Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin and Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman sought county government spending increases of up to $27.9 million, representing a nearly 32% jump from the county’s current contribution.
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.
“The school nutrition director was prohibited from implementing, completing and/or fulfilling various compliance requirements in the non-school programs,” notes a report compiled by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction regarding Asheville City Schools.
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.
“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.”
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.