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 collaborative effort is meant to quell community fears and rumors about COVID-19 in K-12 school settings, said Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin. The first report, shared Nov. 5, identified eight cases across six schools.
The Buncombe County Board of Education was strongly divided on the move, approving it by only one vote. Chair Ann Franklin, along with members Amy Churchill, Max Queen and Peggy Buchanan, voted in favor of the plan, with Vice-Chair Cindy McMahon and members Pat Bryant and Donna Pate in opposition.
According to preliminary results from surveys sent to families with children in the younger grades, roughly 40% of those attending Buncombe County Schools and 38% of those attending Asheville City Schools are opting for all-virtual classes.
As Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin explained to the county Board of Commissioners during a May 19 meeting, the system’s pandemic response has completely exhausted its $4.6 million rainy day fund — and the schools now project a $2.1 million deficit by the end of the fiscal year.
While Buncombe County’s current proposed budget includes nearly $3.6 million in new education funding, total requests from local systems on May 7 came to roughly $8.16 million. That figure includes $1.06 million more for A-B Tech, $2.09 million for Asheville City Schools and $5.01 million in increased funding for Buncombe County Schools.
As of June 11, Buncombe County has $458.5 million in debt. Over half of that debt balance ― $270 million ― has paid for facilities for A-B Tech and the county’s two public school systems, the Asheville City and Buncombe County schools.
Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin released a statement today, Friday, July 26, about the local impact of the state budget — particularly when it comes to teaching assistants.