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Asheville Primary’s Montessori Program Relocating to the Hall Fletcher Elementary School Campus in Fall 2021

Asheville Primary Five-Year Needs Assessment 

January 5, 2021

Good Afternoon Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with some information regarding your school community. 

During the December 14th Special Called Meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education, the Board unanimously approved Dr. Gene’s recommendation to begin exploring the possibility of selling the Asheville Primary campus.  This decision means the Board has given Dr. Gene as well as district and school leaders the opportunity to start researching and planning.  No official decision has been made as to whether or not the Board will in fact sell the building and/or property.  The Board invites you to continue to share your thoughts and feelings with them by email as well as during the public comments portion of their next Regular Meeting, which is scheduled for February 1st. 

Additionally, following previous communications and the December 10th Parent-Teacher Collective Meeting as well as after reviewing the circulating petition, I’ve received a few frequently asked questions.  Below you will find the district and planning team’s most up-to-date responses: 

I understand Montessori students will be relocating to the Hall Fletcher campus next school year.  But, I have a preschool student.  When will they be moving? 

  • Traditional Pre-K students will remain on the Asheville Primary campus through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. 
  • As shared, the district is currently assessing spaces both within our facilities and community to determine how many can be retrofitted into Pre-K classrooms.  Our hope is to finalize new Pre-K sites by the end of January and begin classroom renovations at new sites in April 2021.  

It seems as though the decision to move the Montessori and Preschool Programs has been rushed.  When did communications about Asheville Primary School first begin?

  • The physical structure and ongoing needs of Asheville Primary School has been a topic of discussion since its expansion back in 2017.  As shared on October 2nd, “when we make rankings with Buncombe County Government, the number of students impacted and the level of return on investment must always be considered when going to the Capital Fund Commission for special projects.”  Its needs were communicated during both the December 2017 and December 2018 Board of Education meetings. 
  • In August 2020, Dr. Gene had the opportunity to walk through the school’s parking lot as well as examine interior safety needs.  This information was communicated with both staff and families, and a web page featuring all updates was created as a Top News Item on the district’s website. 
  • In total, three virtual town halls were held in Fall 2020.  Topics discussed included curriculum and the building’s capacity, the campus’ current facility needs, how the district receives funding from Buncombe County’s School Capital Fund Commission and information from the North Carolina Department of Transportation about its I-26 connector project.  
  • Please know there will be additional opportunities for staff, parents and community members to express their thoughts and feelings.  

Why now?  What is the driving force behind the district’s decision to close Asheville Primary at this time? 

  • As shared, the Asheville Primary campus presents multiple facility and safety challenges, and, unfortunately, funding is not available to fully renovate our current building or continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for yearly, costly quick fixes and temporary bandaids.  To see a list of Asheville Primary’s Five Years Needs Assessment, please click here.
  • As a district, we have spent nearly half a million dollars in Asheville Primary capital repairs and expenditures since August 2017.  However, this does not fix the root of the problem.  This only addresses the symptomatic consequences of a faulty, antiquated campus infrastructure that is increasingly costly to operate.
  • The Five Year Needs Assessment mentioned above required, at minimum, $202,000 worth of critical repairs this fiscal year alone to address water and sewer problems.  The plan further suggests that we spend almost $6 million over the next two years to bring the building up to minimum standards.  Those needs are called “High Priority” in the assessment, and the most concerning involve the following:
    • $712,000 for new windows throughout the building
    • $939,750 for a complete electrical systems replacement
    • $859,200 for abatement, envelope repairs, a hot water system as well as water, sewer and electric lines
    • $2,741,393 for a HVAC system replacement including hydronic piping and insulation
  • Due to the age of the building and materials used in its initial construction, the district could have a much higher abatement cost that requires a much more extensive renovation. 

Are Asheville Primary teachers and support staff part of the planning team? 

  • The planning team currently includes Asheville Primary Principal Tima Williams and Preschool Director Susanna Smith.  
  • Discussions currently involve personnel decisions, which is why teachers and parents cannot be part of the committee at this time.  However, please know there will be opportunities for additional participants to join based on where we are in the planning process this Spring.    

Are there more financial details that could be shared with the Asheville Primary community to help us understand how letting go of our building may potentially help the broader ACS community?

  • The general fund balance covers local positions, operating costs and unexpected expenses, such as emergency situations and state-mandated costs that are not otherwise covered with state/federal funds.  According to Georgia Harvey, the district’s Chief Finance Officer, a responsible general fund balance for a district of our size from year to year is around $5 million.  Our beginning balance for the 2020-2021 school year general fund was $5.1 million.  Of that, we have allocated $3 million to pay for this year’s expenses.  Essentially, that only leaves a planned $2.1 million to carry over, which means we would not be able to cover the same continuing expenses for the 2021-2022 school year.   
  • Should the Board of Education decide to sell Asheville Primary School, its revenue would go back into the district’s capital fund for facility improvements and upgrades.  It would NOT go to the general fund.  In fact, the Board of Education is not looking at selling the building in order to “cushion our budget.”  The Board is exploring the possibility of selling the campus because we cannot continue to pay for costly quick fixes year after year.  
  • Regardless of whether the Montessori Program is on Asheville Primary or Hall Fletcher’s campus, the school district will continue to receive the same amount of money for personnel and per pupil expenditures.
  • In regards to the Preschool Program, above and beyond what is received in tuition reimbursement, grants as well as local, state and federal dollars, the district’s budget supplements an additional $1.2 million for operations.  
  • This is only a short overview; however, if you have additional questions about the budget, please visit the Finance Department’s website or email georgia.harvey@acsgmail.net.

Selling the building will greatly affect our West Asheville neighborhood.  Can you commit to sell to a buyer who will bring benefit to our local community?  

  • At this time, no official decision has been made as to whether or not the Asheville City Board of Education will in fact sell the building and/or property.  However, should they move in that direction, the new owner will be up to the Board.  Dr. Gene can only make recommendations.  However, his recommendation will be from a fiscal perspective. 

The information we have been provided says that there will be six Montessori classrooms at Hall Fletcher Elementary School, but we currently have eight. How will that work?

  • The planning team is reviewing Hall Fletcher’s building capacity and has currently identified six classrooms on the first floor.  They are continuing to review the building’s floor plan and are looking at other potential spaces, keeping in mind the need to be as close as possible to the original six so that the Montessori community can continue to be built upon.  

Our rising fourth graders have been together from the beginning. It seems that creating one classroom for these children is in their best interest, as well as providing the long term data that Dr. Freeman wants to see.  Is that a possibility for the 2021-2022 school year?  

  • As shared in communications that first went out to staff and families on October 2nd, “no discussion regarding expansion has taken place.”  
  • Echoing this sentiment, per our December 8th update, it was shared that “at this time, Montessori Programming will not be extended to 4th or 5th Grade,” as Dr. Gene believes it’s important to “collect our own data and have a true longitudinal study that gauges the program’s success” beyond anecdotal information and a positive school culture. This same process will be utilized across the district, not just for the Montessori Program.  

To the staff and families that have already reached out, thank you!  I hope we can continue to keep an open dialogue.  Please continue to email me at ashley.thublin@acsgmail.net as additional questions arise.


December 10, 2020

Good Afternoon Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications. 

Following Tuesday’s communication, I received a few questions I’d like to answer as well as clarify a few points posed in recent news articles. 

Is the district selling the Asheville Primary campus? 

  • The Board of Education will discuss exploring the ability to sell the Ashville Primary campus during their next meeting.  At this time, no official decision has been made by the Board clear of relocating the Montessori and Preschool Programs. 

Is there capacity at Hall Fletcher Elementary School to expand the Montessori program? 

  • Yes.  Hall Fletcher’s capacity is around 500 students.  This means Asheville City Schools has the ability to add 100 more students on Hall Fletcher’s campus above and beyond the school’s current number of enrollees and the 100 Montessori students who will be relocating to the campus next Fall. 
  • As shared, Asheville City Schools is committed to continuing the Montessori Program through the 2026-2027 school year.  Expansion and a continuation beyond the 2026-2027 school year will be contingent upon collecting our own data and having a true longitudinal study that gauges the program’s success.
  • Although new enrollment will be limited to siblings of current Montessori students as we transition to our new space in 2021-2022, we will revisit community open-enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year.   

How many Pre-K classrooms does the district currently have?  

  • The district currently has nine preschool classrooms across all campuses.  

Is the district freezing its Pre-K program?  How many Pre-K classrooms will Asheville City Schools have during the 2021-2022 school year? 

  • We certainly are NOT freezing our Pre-K program!  Based on enrollment, a review of finances by the Board and available funding from the local, state and federal government, Dr. Gene’s recommendation was and remains to maintain our current number of Pre-K classes.  
  • With the goal of opening additional classrooms and slots for students, the district is currently assessing spaces both within our facilities and community to determine how many can be retrofitted into Pre-K classrooms. 
  • Additionally, although the Division of Child Development allows up to 18 students per traditional classroom, the district capped each class at 12 this year in order to increase safety measures and maintain proper social distancing during COVID-19.  Our hope is that we will be able to remove the cap beginning in Fall 2021.  Therefore, keeping the same number of classrooms means we will be able to serve more students next year compared to currently, not less.
  • Additionally, moving forward, the district will begin collecting data to determine the outcomes of Pre-K achievement levels and the lasting benefits of high-quality preschool.

I know Asheville City Schools is currently determining the number of available classrooms that can be retrofitted.  Once you’ve found space, will there be enough money to complete the retrofitting?  

  • According to Dr. Gene, “If Asheville City Schools has another year like this year, we wouldn’t be able to meet the budget,” which is why he’s placing such an emphasis on fiscal responsibility during each Board Meeting.  However, once the Auxiliary Department has determined where classrooms can go, there will be enough money to retrofit spaces per the unique guidelines set forth by the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Learning. 

Will the Pre-K enroll new students next year? 

  • With current Pre-K4 students transitioning to Kindergarten during the 2020-2021 school year, we fully anticipate the ability to enroll new three and four-year-olds based on the existing funding we receive.  

To the staff and families that have already reached out, thank you!  I hope we can continue to keep an open dialogue.  Please continue to email me at ashley.thublin@acsgmail.net as additional questions arise.


December 8, 2020

Good Morning Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an important update about your school community. 

During yesterday’s meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education, I made several recommendations regarding the future of our Montessori Program and the Asheville Primary campus.  Most importantly, please know: 

  1. We will be continuing the Montessori program for our currently enrolled students and will be examining data for a potential future expansion/continuation of the program beyond the 2026-2027 school year.  For the 2021-2022 school year, new enrollment will be limited to siblings of current Montessori students as we transition to our new space.  However, we will revisit community open-enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year.
  2. We will maintain Pre-K for the students currently enrolled in Asheville City Schools’ program.  In order to enroll new students, the district needs additional classroom space; therefore, our ability to enroll new Pre-K students for the 2021-2022 school year will be based on space and capacity. 
  3. No one is losing their job; all staff members are maintaining their employment within Asheville City Schools.   

Relocating Current Classrooms:

As I’ve shared during our town halls, the Asheville Primary campus presents multiple facility and safety challenges, and, unfortunately, funding is not available to fully renovate our current building or continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for yearly, costly quick fixes and temporary bandaids.  

Therefore, beginning in Fall 2021, Asheville Primary’s Montessori Program will be relocated to the Hall Fletcher Elementary School campus.  It will become a program within a school. 

The district will maintain our current Pre-K classrooms at Isaac Dickson Elementary School and Ira B. Jones Elementary School.  We will continue to have one Pre-K classroom at Hall Fletcher Elementary.  The other Pre-K classroom will become a Montessori Pre-K/Kindergarten Early Childhood Education classroom.  The district’s Auxiliary Department is currently assessing facilities both within our district and in our community to determine where our current Asheville Primary Pre-K classrooms could be relocated.  In order to give families time to prepare, our goal is to announce new Pre-K sites by the end of January 2021.  

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:  

Anticipating this news will spark many questions, my team, along with Asheville Primary Principal, Tima Williams, ACS Preschool Program Director, Susanna Smith, and Hall Fletcher Elementary School Interim Principal, Carrie Buchanan, have come up with the following answers.  However, our hope is that this will be an open dialogue, so if you have additional questions, please email our Executive Director of Communications at ashley.thublin@acsgmail.net

Question:  Why was Hall Fletcher Elementary School selected as the new site for the Montessori Program? 

  • The current facility and safety needs of Asheville Primary School is where our problem lies.  When considering which campus would provide the smoothest transition, Hall Fletcher Elementary School was selected for a number of reasons.   
    • Due to the unique layout of Hall Fletcher Elementary School, all six Montessori classrooms will be able to stay on the same floor, meaning the unique community and integrity Asheville Primary has fostered over the past three and half years will remain intact.   
    • It’s an excellent opportunity for two great staffs to combine their resources as they continue to support the students of West Asheville and beyond. 
    • Both schools are within West Asheville.  Therefore, Asheville Primary’s current, local community partners will have the opportunity to continue to support the program. 
    • Like Asheville Primary, Hall Fletcher is an elementary school.  Relocating the program to its campus is developmentally appropriate.  
    • The Montessori methods compliment Hall Fletcher’s magnet theme of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM). 
    • Hall Fletcher extends to 4th and 5th Grade, meaning siblings could remain on the same campus.  

Question:  With its move to Hall Fletcher Elementary School, will the Montessori Program be expanding to 4th or 5th Grade for the 2021-2022 school year? 

  • At this time, Montessori Programming will not be extended to 4th or 5th Grade.  After we finish with COVID issues, I think it’s important to collect our own data and have a true longitudinal study that gauges the program’s success.  We have strong anecdotal information as well as a positive school culture, but I think it’s important to have empirical data when making future decisions.  
  • Should your family select the option, please know there is capacity at Hall Fletcher Elementary School to accommodate all rising Asheville Primary School 4th Graders.  Therefore, if your family has multiple children currently enrolled within the Montessori Program, they could continue to attend school together.  

Question:  I have a rising Pre-K student.  Can I enroll them in the Montessori program on Hall Fletcher’s campus? 

  • For the 2021-2022 school year, new enrollment will be limited to siblings of current Montessori students as we transition to our new space.  
  • We will revisit community open-enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year.
  • As shared, Asheville City Schools is committed to continuing the Montessori Program through the 2026-2027 school year.  This means all currently enrolled students have the opportunity to complete the program in its entirety.  Any families enrolling students in the Montessori Program for the 2021-2022 school year and beyond will be required to sign an attestation form noting they understand the program may conclude prior to their child’s completion.  As previously shared, expansion and a continuation beyond the 2026-2027 school year will be contingent on collected data. 

Question:  How many Pre-K classrooms will the district have during the 2021-2022 school year? 

  • The number of available classrooms across the district that can be retrofitted to accommodate the unique guidelines set forth by the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Learning will determine how many the district can have.  
  • The district is also exploring the possibility of partnering with Asheville Housing Authority to create community-based Pre-K classrooms. 

Question:  Will Asheville City Schools have a staffing surplus?  Will anyone be losing their job?  

  • No.  Regardless of whether they work within Hall Fletcher Elementary School, the Montessori Program or Pre-K Program, all of our current staff members will maintain employment within Asheville City Schools. 
  • There is a possibility of surplus or duplicate staff.  The district’s leadership team will work closely with both principals and the Preschool Director to determine best placements for staff. 

December 4, 2020

Good Morning Asheville Primary and Preschool Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Asheville City Schools’ Executive Director of Communications.

In an effort to keep you informed, I wanted to let you know that Dr. Gene will be talking with the Asheville City Board of Education about the future of Asheville Primary’s current facilities during their December 7th Work Session.  It is set to begin at 3:00 PM and will be streamed live on the district’s Facebook Page, @AVLCitySchools.  Following the Work Session, the Board Meeting will begin at 5:00 PM.

Echoing his sentiments from previous town halls and our November 16th update, please know Dr. Gene is committed to giving every student that’s currently enrolled in both the Montessori and Preschool Programs an opportunity to finish under the guidance and expertise of our teachers and administrators. 

Dr. Gene’s recommendation will involve the building itself.  Additionally, he’ll share what he’s learned about capacity on other campuses. 

Based on the Board’s decision, please know additional communication will go out on Tuesday, December 8th.

Have a restful weekend, and thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools. 


November 16, 2020

Good Afternoon Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene. 

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to join us for Tuesday’s virtual town hall.  

I enjoyed hearing from our staff and families but must admit my favorite part of the evening was listening to our students about their past and current experiences with Montessori education.  As I’ve said, they’re the driving force behind every decision I make, so I really appreciated that our discussion was centered around children and doing what’s best for them.  

As a recap, I shared that while I don’t have a firm grasp on the building’s future, I believe the district made our families a promise and am committed to giving every student that’s currently enrolled in the Montessori program an opportunity to finish under the guidance and expertise of our Asheville Primary teachers and administrators.  

Presently, my recommendation will be to not expand to 4th or 5th Grade for the upcoming school year.  After we finish with COVID issues, I think it’s important to collect our own data and have a true longitudinal study that gauges the program’s success.  We have strong anecdotal information as well as a positive school culture, but I think it’s important to have empirical data when making future decisions.   

Please know our planning committee, which does include both Principal Tima Williams and Preschool Director Susanna Smith, will review your thoughts as we determine next steps.  In total, we received 101 responses over just a two hour period - thank you! However, we know and understand that now that you’ve had a chance to process the knowledge you received, you may have additional thoughts, feelings or questions.  Therefore, please submit them through this form.

Thank you for your continued support of both Asheville Primary and Asheville City Schools.  We will continue to keep you informed and will be in touch once we know more about capacity in other buildings. 


October 14, 2020

Good Afternoon Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications. 

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to join us for last night’s virtual town hall.  The one-hour session was very similar to our September 15th meeting and gave additional insight into information like:  the campus’ current facility needs, how the district receives funding from Buncombe County’s School Capital Fund Commission as well as more from the North Carolina Department of Transportation about its I-26 connector project.  If you were unable to attend one of our virtual town halls geared toward discussing our current facilities and the I-26 construction project, you can find a recording from our October 13th meeting here.  

In an effort to respect your calendars, we stuck close to our 5:00 - 6:00 PM timeframe, and several of you were able to get your questions answered.  However, we know and understand that now that you’ve had a chance to process the knowledge you received, you may have additional questions.  Therefore, please submit your inquiries through this form.  Based on the questions we receive, I will be sending out a Frequently Asked Questions update within the next two weeks.  

Additionally, as shared during last night’s meeting, you can find the Department of Transportation’s map for the school’s proposed parking layout here.  Steve Cannon, the DOT Project Development Engineer, also included this link to project maps that were presented at the December 2018 Public Hearing.  Please know that these are not final designs but will give you a good idea of the general project.  He also asked me to clarify his response regarding the proposed greenways, which are shown in purple on the maps.  “I misspoke about the greenway at the school – it actually does not extend south to Amboy,” wrote Mr. Cannon.  “It begins at Haywood and goes north to Patton across the Capt. Jeff Bowen bridges and ends at Clingman.  There is a separate greenway from Shelburne Rd at Brevard Rd traveling north parallel to I-26 Connector, down Amboy ending at Short Michigan Avenue.” 

As a reminder, another virtual town hall has been scheduled for Tuesday, November 10th at 5:00 PM.  Its agenda will include a discussion on curriculum and the building’s capacity.  Specific information for joining the meeting can be found here. 

Thank you for your continued support of both Asheville Primary and Asheville City Schools.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and look forward to hearing your thoughts during our next virtual town hall. 


October 2, 2020

Good Afternoon Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications. 

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to not only join us for our September 15th town hall but also submitted follow-up questions.  In an effort to be as transparent as possible, answers to your safety and renovation FAQs can be found below.  

Question:  It seems that renovations to Asheville Primary/Asheville City Preschools are behind several other schools in priority based on need. So, why are we talking about this now?

  • Traditionally, Asheville Primary School has been one of our highest priority locations since its expansion back in 2017.  When we make rankings with Buncombe County Government, the number of students impacted and the level of return on investment must always be considered when going to the Capital Fund Commission for special projects.

Question:  Is the main worry about re-building that we would lose Montessori?

  • The Auxiliary/Maintenance Department has only one concern:  providing a safe, clean learning environment.  The discussion regarding Montessori has not occurred but will at a later date. It will be important to review academic data to determine the long-term plan for Montessori curriculum.

 Question:  The highway construction project seems like it will have little negative impact on the building or property. The access ramp will actually move further away, and the school will get better parking and a safer pickup/dropoff route.

  • If we decide to renovate the building, the district’s project will now proceed the road construction.  Therefore, any renovations must be done in a way that is conducive to the NCDOT project.

 Question:  Would the board still consider expanding Asheville Primary to include 4th & 5th grade for the next school year? 

  • Given the current building condition, no discussion regarding expansion has taken place. We will place a heavy emphasis on safety and feasibility of the campus.

Question:  Is there anything reassuring you could tell stakeholders who are extremely invested in APS?  

  • The best assurance I can give you is this:  as long as students and staff are in the building, Asheville City Schools will provide a safe learning environment to the most feasible extent possible.

Should you wish to ask additional questions in “person,” please be reminded that our next virtual town hall is taking place on Tuesday, October 13th at 5:00 PM over Zoom.  The October 13th agenda will mirror our September 15th virtual town hall and will not only give you insight into the campus’ current facility needs but also include an explanation as to how the district receives funding from Buncombe County’s School Capital Fund Commission.  You will also hear more from the North Carolina Department of Transportation about its I-26 connector project.  Specific information for joining the meeting can be found here. 

Additionally, we invite you to mark your calendars, as another virtual town hall has been scheduled for Tuesday, November 10th at 5:00 PM.  Its agenda will include a discussion on curriculum and the building’s capacity.  

Thank you for your continued support of both Asheville Primary and Asheville City Schools.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and look forward to hearing your thoughts during our next virtual town hall. 


September 16, 2020 

Good Afternoon Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications. 

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to join us for last night’s virtual town hall.  The one-hour session was jam-packed with lots of information, like insight into the campus’ current facility needs, an explanation as to how the district receives funding from Buncombe County’s School Capital Fund Commission as well as more from the North Carolina Department of Transportation about its I-26 connector project. 

In an effort to respect your calendars, we stuck close to our 5:00 - 6:00 PM timeframe, and several of you were able to get your questions answered.  However, we know and understand that now that you’ve had a chance to process the knowledge you received, you may have additional questions.  Therefore, please submit your inquiries through this form.  Based on the questions we receive, I will be sending out a Frequently Asked Questions update within the next two weeks.  

Or, if you would like to ask your questions in person, please join us for our next virtual town hall.  It’s taking place on Tuesday, October 13th at 5:00 PM over Zoom.  The October 13th agenda will mirror last night’s discussion.  Specific information for joining the meeting can be found here. 

Thank you for your continued support of both Asheville Primary and Asheville City Schools.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and look forward to hearing your thoughts during our next virtual town hall.


September 10, 2020 

Good Evening Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an important update about your school community. 

During tonight’s meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education, I, along with our Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services and the district’s Maintenance Director, discussed several capital improvement projects, including the campus of Asheville Primary Schools. 

Last week, the Department of Transportation released a revised construction schedule, and, while many updates impacting our campus have now been delayed until 2024, I think we can all agree now is the time to begin making plans.  In fact, I believe it’s in the best interest of our school community to take advantage of this three-year window instead of waiting until the last minute. 

As your superintendent, I’m invested in this community and want to learn more about the building’s current issues and what our options are moving forward.  

That’s why I’m inviting you to attend one of our upcoming virtual town halls.  The first is set for next Tuesday, September 15th, with the second scheduled for Tuesday, October 13th.  Both will occur at 5:00 PM.  Next week’s meeting will be held over Zoom.  Specific details for joining can be found here. 

During the meeting, we’ll hear more from the Department of Transportation about the forthcoming project as well as from the district’s Maintenance Director about a few items we need to address in order to ensure the continued safety of our students and staff members.  

Thank you for your continued support of both our district and Asheville Primary School.  I look forward to seeing you during one of our upcoming virtual town halls. 


September 2, 2020 

Good Afternoon Asheville Primary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an important update about your school community. 

Following last Friday’s message, I’ve received a few inquiries asking for further clarification.  Thank you for reaching out and advocating for your school community. 

First and foremost, please understand that my intention was not to create a sense of fear or panic.  I simply knew people would be concerned if they saw a group of folks walking around the building, and I was just trying to be as transparent as possible. 

Earlier this week, I had the chance to meet with both Tima Williams, the Primary School Principal, and Susanna Smith, the Director of the Preschool Program.  And, I wanted to share with you a bit about our conversation.  

As we review our district-wide capital project plans over the next five years (including APS as well as Asheville High School’s track just to name a few), please know and understand that we are working together to find the best solutions.  We want your child to have a safe, loving learning environment.  However, due to the age of the Asheville Primary campus, there are certainly a few items we need to address in order to ensure the continued safety of our students and staff members. 

For example, based on my experience with school renovations ($300+ million throughout my career), I believe there is mold and/or asbestos in presently undisturbed areas of your campus, like the floor or ceiling tiles away from our current classrooms.  Additionally, our windows are antiquated and easy to break.  And, of course, I always have the I-26 connector project in the back of my mind.  Not only will the project eliminate parent and staff parking as well as limit bus access, but it’s also set to bring cars 40 to 50 feet closer to the building, which has me concerned about increased traffic sounds and air pollution from the highway being that much closer.

No final decisions have been made.  In fact, these are just a few of the projects we’re exploring as part of the district’s behind the scenes work to support your child and family.  But, I can promise you that, as your superintendent, I do not believe your school’s current structural condition is the best it can be for our staff, students and family.  We can and must do better! 

Before any recommendations are brought before The Asheville City Board of Education, I would appreciate hearing more from you.  That’s why I’ll be hosting two virtual town halls on Tuesday, September 15th and Tuesday, October 13th at 5:00 PM.  We’re still determining the best platform, but please know more information will follow. 

Have a great night, and thank you for your time and understanding.  


August 28, 2020

Good Afternoon Asheville Primary School Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about your school community. 

This morning I had the opportunity to walk through your school’s parking lot and examine the parts of our campus that will be impacted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation's I-26 connector project. 

To summarize, the City of Asheville has announced the project is set to begin as early as June 2021 and is estimated to take about five years to complete. 

As the project begins, we believe there will be challenges pertaining to parent and staff parking, bus access as well as the overall safety and structure of the building. 

Please know our team is currently working through scenarios, and we will be providing you with further information as we learn more.  Additionally, we will be holding community meetings in September to hear your thoughts concerning the changes that are due to take place here based on construction.