Asheville Primary

Board work session at 4pm.

Public Comment IN PERSON at 6:30.

85 Mountain St, Asheville, NC 28801

Free pizza! Transportation available--just email

It's Not Just About Saving One School. It's About Saving Our District.

The cracks are showing in ACS district leadership. The mismanagement of Asheville Primary and the ACS Preschool is just one symptom of a much deeper set of problems. The jumbled, ever-changing "plans," the opaque budgeting decisions, and the refusal to center our children and put their needs first are irresponsible and unacceptable.

The school board needs to take control and restructure central office before it is too late.

Board Member Email Addresses

  • - (828) 301-2894

  • - (828) 450-2703

  • - (828) 273-9445

  • - (828) 713-2083

  • - (828) 279-1197

Asheville City School Board, We Are Counting On You.

Asheville City Schools is (finally) imploding. Those who have been in leadership since Pamela Baldwin have finally managed to rot the whole barrel of apples.

The who.....each Superintendent since Robert Logan has been worse than the last. Starting with relatively milk toast Allen Johnson, who had to leave because he hired and then protected sexual predators. Then Pamela Baldwin, who spent a bunch of money on an equity program we never used, brought in folks who never moved here, but wasted our time and took our money, and worst of all, elevated those who now have "led" our district for the last 7 years through the likes of Denise Patterson (pawn) and Gene Freeman (pawn, and also a short tempered horrible man).

At the epicenter, Melissa Hedt. Who has failed in every equity initiative she had introduced and implemented over the last 7 years. She is now Deputy Superintendent, essentially running the show. Her right and left sides are Laura Parks and Sarah Cain, who both received raises a couple of weeks ago (while we are allegedly broke....) Oh, by the way, Gene has given raises to nearly everyone in Central Office, including the Board. The rest of the "leadership team" includes these folks..... By leadership what I mean are the folks who are in the "room where it happens".......former Board Chair Shaunda Sandford, who continues to meet regularly with Gene and Central Office staff, as well as the general Asheville community representing herself as the face of Asheville City Schools, Melissa Hedt, Gene Freeman (who is on vacation again this weekend), Kidada Wynn, who was Shaunda's pick to be head of Student Services (laughable in our district where students are not the focus of these "leaders"), April Dockery, and some lesser players who help them work their misdeeds.

Through all of this, teachers and staff have remained. Working in fear. Working for and with our children. With little support from above, but lots of interference and road blocks. This year has been the straw. Folks are jumping ship. Good good people. Who simply can't take it any longer.

Our elected officials (at the county level) are done with it. City Council couldn't care less. Yesterday's budget presentation where our Superintendent acted the ass has been on the news all over the state.

I've been sounding the alarm for 5 years now. Quietly, at first. Louder each year. The last year it has been my full time job, 30-75 hours a week. Listening and talking.

I've got a last ask. Now it's a demand, really.

I need the Board to take charge. NOW. I mean tomorrow morning when they get out of bed. Nothing happens in Central Office without their knowledge and approval. NOTHING.

THEN...... Get rid of the Superintendent. Clean house in Central Office. Get rid of at least half of the directors and executive whatevers. Keep those committed to working with children, who are actually working with children. Hire an interim from within who can earn the job permanently.

That's the ask. Folks are already asking and planning for the dissolution of the district. I would say this Board has about 24 hours to turn this around. It might be too late. After yesterday.

Good luck. We are all watching. And counting on you.

Kate Fisher

May 12, 2021


Families pointed this discrepancy (and many others) out at the public hearing in March, and it was not addressed or revised in the updated study.

Please keep in mind that Montessori classrooms are multi-age, and Pre-K3 and 4 are an integral part of our early childhood (PreK and K) classrooms.

Updated APS "study":

More issues outlined here:

Special Called Meeting Thursday, May 6th, 2021 Targets ACS Budget

NOTICE OF SPECIAL CALLED MEETING Thursday, May 6, 2021 4:00 PM Please take notice that the Asheville City Board of Education ("Board") will hold a Special Called Work Session Meeting on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in the Board Room of the Asheville City Schools Administrative Offices, 85 Mountain Street, Asheville, North Carolina The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the items on the agenda. No action will be taken. There will be limited seating in the Board Room due to physical distancing guidelines. We will provide additional seating in the Training Room for viewing.


I. Call to Order - 4:00 PM James C. Carter, Board Chair

II. Quorum Determination James C. Carter, Board Chair

III. Adopt An Agenda James C. Carter, Board Chair

IV. Budget Georgia Harvey, Executive Director of Finance

V. Future Meetings/Announcements ● Work Session/Closed Session and Regular Meetings, will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 10, 2021 at the Administrative Offices, Board Room, 85 Mountain Street, Asheville, NC, 28801

VI. Adjournment - 6:00 p.m.

BOE chooses new chair and vice chair, opts to put the fate of APS back on the agenda at their next work session.


At tonight's regular meeting, James Carter was chosen as the new ACS BOE Chair in a 3-2 vote, and Jackie McHargue was chosen as the new vice chair, also by a vote of 3-2. Shaunda Sandford and Martha Geitner voted for Peyton O'Conner for both the chair and vice chair positions.

During the work session that preceded the meeting, Jackie asked that the future of Asheville Primary School be put on the agenda for their next work session, and there was unanimous consent, so please continue to contact board members to share your perspective on the future of APS and ACS early childhood education.

Also notable: Strong public comment in favor of transparency and stakeholder involvement in decision making and questions about the honesty and legality of the process so far.

CAO Answers to Boost Families Burton FullDay FullYear 2 Classrooms 2021 03 08.pdf

ACS Plan to Close and Vacate Asheville Primary School Could Displace Other Vital Early Childhood Programs

"4. What is the impact to Community Action Opportunities programming from Asheville City Schools Preschool moving into Housing Authority locations, including Burton being one of the locations they cited in their application?"

"CAO has previously had a strong partnership with ACS for many, many years. We have collaborated in many areas including: community assessments, shared training opportunities, participated on selection and assessment committees, and co-located staff. CAO Head Start has also contracted with ACS to provide education services to Head Start eligible children (current contract is for 55 children) for over 20 years.

CAO was surprised to learn of the Primary School closure in the news. As of March 12, CAO, ACS, HACA and the County have met together for exactly one hour of conversation regarding possible collaborations and solutions to the community crisis created by this decision.

CAO leases its three city Head Start Centers located at Hillcrest, Pisgah View, and Southside (the Lonnie D. Burton ECE Center) from the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville (HACA). There has been no request to date regarding Hillcrest or Pisgah View centers. ACS has approached HACA and requested the full use of the Lonnie D. Burton ECE Center.

If approved, this would dislocate / evict four classrooms of high-quality early childhood education serving 72 Head Start, NC Pre-K, and BCECEDF children and families that live on lower incomes. At the Burton Center this year, 75% of children served are children of color, 80% of families are single parent households and the average income is for all families is $10,388. ACSs’ current plan would reduce or supplant high-quality, comprehensive Head Start services to children and families of color and families living on low incomes."


Keep the Montessori and Preschool classrooms in place at APS and take at least one year to involve all stakeholders in making good decisions that benefit all ACS children.


Asheville Primary School (APS) is an Asheville City School (ACS) building that currently houses two programs- The Asheville City Preschool (a 5 Star preschool program that benefits some of Asheville’s most vulnerable families) and Asheville Primary (WNC's only public Montessori school).

The ACS School Board and Superintendent have decided, without meaningful community input, to begin the process of selling the APS building and the property on which it sits. They intend to reclassify the Montessori School as a "program" and move its 8 classrooms into Hall Fletcher Elementary School. They have put a freeze on ACS Preschool enrollment and say they will move the 7 5-Star preschool classrooms to unknown locations around the district and/or community.

Support Our Students!

Join us to prevent a short-sighted dissolution of two fully-enrolled, highly successful programs within ACS and to stop the sale of the campus on Haywood Road in West Asheville. The families, staff, and supportive community of Asheville Primary School agree that the decision to sell the building at 441 Haywood Road and the redistribution of the Asheville City Preschool and public Montessori school currently housed there to other spaces is short-sighted and is being made hastily without a long-term plan for what is best for the community. Stakeholders’ requests for an open dialogue with district leadership and Board of Education Members have been denied. These drastic decisions that impact the entire Asheville community should not be made during a pandemic, under new leadership, and without stakeholder involvement. We demand transparency from the Board of Education and the Superintendent about why this agenda is being rammed through right now.

What We're Advocating For

  • We request that all decisions regarding the selling of the building be put off for a minimum of 2 years. The district has already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into renovations and should continue to renovate the space instead of sacrificing a long-term asset for a short term gain. During that time both programs should be able to keep full occupancy of the building. The community of West Asheville would be greatly altered if the school was sold to a private buyer or developer. The school currently serves the needs of our community by offering free and affordable high quality preschool options to some of our most vulnerable families.

  • We request that the Preschool and Montessori programs remain intact and continue to benefit from shared space and collaboration between the exceptional educators of both programs.

  • We request that we preserve the 7 highly effective, 5-Star preschool classrooms on the Asheville Primary campus while continuing to branch out with additional satellite classrooms at other ACS elementary schools or other community locations that best serve Asheville’s 3 and 4 year olds.

  • We request that the Montessori program be expanded to 4th grade for the 2021-2022 school year and 5th grade for the 2022-2023 school year. Keeping our current 3rd graders in the school through 5th grade will allow the district to collect data on students who have benefited from Montessori learning since Kindergarten. This data will be essential for the district to see the benefits of public Montessori when making decisions regarding the future of the program.

  • We request open enrollment in APS Montessori, not limited to just siblings of current APS students so we can obtain accurate longitudinal data on a fully functioning public Montessori school. Public Montessori schools across the US have shown positive outcomes in closing the opportunity gap, especially increasing positive outcomes for students of low-income backgrounds. We request that the district fully commit to Asheville Primary Montessori as a pre-K to 5th grade school, joining the ranks of the rest of the public elementary schools in the district's magnet program, instead of downgrading it and limiting enrollment and therefore limiting the ability for accurate longitudinal data.

There has been significant investment in this building over the past 5 years including a new playground, a new parking lot, a new media center, new gym roof, cafeteria updates and mold abatement and office renovations. Yes, the building has issues but the staff of both programs love the space, the natural light, the safe outdoor access, outdoor classroom spaces, and more.

What happens in a few years post-Covid when ACS is again bursting at the seams and this building has been sold? We all know property within Asheville City limits is not inexpensive or easy to come by. Please take a look at this issue, insist on a 5-10 year plan for ACS, and don't let a short-sighted plan to rectify a budget deficit allow this hasty plan to move forward.