The Buncombe County Schools’ proposed calendar for the 2013 – 2014 school year will likely be presented to the Board of Education at the November 8 regular meeting. The proposed calendar is presented to the Board for consideration and recommended approval by the Calendar Committee. The process of development for this calendar is similar to those presented and approved in the past.
The Calendar Committee has 32 members. These members are Central Office personnel, school based administrators, teachers, students and parent representatives from each of our six school districts along with a representative from the early and middle college programs. The Committee met three times in development of the proposed calendar. In addition to the input from these representatives across the County, a parent and staff on-line survey was conducted. This survey focused on three primary areas: placement of teacher work days, placement of early release days, and Spring break.
The NC Legislature has mandated public school students receive instruction during 185 days or 1025 hours of instruction during the school year. To meet this requirement, the Calendar Committee considers the hours of instruction, days required to meet the necessary instruction hours, extracurricular activities (arts, sports, transportation, student employment, homework, etc.), and other constraints to establish possible calendar options. The Committee then considers options such as a 185 day calendar, a 182 day calendar which meets the 1025 hours of instruction, or a calendar with fewer days but with increasing the school-day hours. It is expected the recommended calendar will be a 182 day calendar. Using that number of days as a base, the Committee then considers the constraints imposed by the Legislature. The basic parameters established by the law can be reviewed on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/fbs/accounting/calendar . The law prohibits starting school sooner than the Monday closest to August 26 UNLESS, the school system has obtained an inclement weather waiver. Buncombe County has been granted an inclement weather waiver; and, as a result, the law permits starting school no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19. The law also requires school ends no later than the Friday closest to June 11. Using the earliest start date of the Monday closest to August 19 and the Friday closest to June 11 as the earliest starting and ending dates for the 2013 – 2014 school year, the Committee must work to establish the recommended calendar between Monday, August 19, 2013 and Friday, June 13, 2014. Excluding Saturdays and Sundays, this leaves 215 days. Pursuant to the law, from the 215 days, there are 10 required teacher work days, 10 required annual leave days, and 10 holidays (however, for the 2013 – 2014 school year due to the date of one of the holidays, there are actually 11 holiday days). This reduces the possible days of student attendance between the first permitted day of attendance and the last possible day of attendance to 184. Some of the teacher work days are typically aligned with the end of grading periods to permit the preparation of report cards. Due to a new change by the Board regarding consistency in grading periods, the alignment is now easier for the students and staff. As teacher work days can, and generally do, occur prior to and after the days of student attendance, the beginning and ending day for students is not the same for teachers; but the permissible beginning and ending dates must be within these same parameters.
Information about the Buncombe County Schools’ calendars is available at http://www.buncombe.k12.nc.us/Page/11 .
EARLY VOTING BEGINS THURSDAY, OCT. 18!
From October 18 – November 3, voters in Buncombe County can vote at any of 18 different conveniently located sites. Voters may cast their ballots Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Saturday October 20 & 27 from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Saturday November 3 from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at all of the 18 sites. On Sunday October 21 and 28 from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. four locations will be open (North Asheville Library, Black Mountain Library, South Buncombe Library & West Asheville Library). The 18 sites are:
- North Asheville Library – 1030 Merrimon Ave., Asheville
- Black Mountain Library – 105 N. Dougherty St., Black Mountain
- South Buncombe Library – 260 Overlook Rd., Asheville
- West Asheville Library – 942 Haywood Rd., Asheville
- Fairview Library – 1 Taylor Rd, Asheville
- Biltmore Square Mall – 800 Brevard Rd, Asheville
- Kenilworth Presbyterian Church – 123 Kenilworth Rd, Asheville
- Lutheran Church of the Nativity – 2425 Hendersonville Rd., Arden
- UNC-A Justice Center – 200 Wellness Way, Asheville
- Weaverville Town Hall – 30 S. Main St., Weaverville
- Leicester Branch Library – 1561 Alexander Rd, Leicester
- Swannanoa Fire Dept. – Bee Tree Substation – 510 Bee Tree Rd, Swannanoa
- Avery’s Creek Community Center – 899 S.E. Glenn Bridge Rd, Arden
- Asheville Mall – 3 S. Tunnel Rd., Asheville
- Jupiter Fire Dept. – 331 Jupiter Rd., Weaverville
- Upper Hominy Fire & Rescue – 1795 Pisgah Hwy., Candler
- New Morgan Hill Baptist Church – 370 Lake Dr., Candler.
Voters throughout the County can vote at ANY of these sites. The ballot for each voter’s district will be available for them. If you would like to review your ballot before visiting the voting site, go to http://www.buncombecounty.org/Governing/Depts/Election/SampleBallots.aspx
NOTE: SCHOOL BOARD IS A NON-PARTISAN ELECTION; IT APPEARS AT THE END (REVERSE SIDE) OF THE BALLOT. EACH VOTER MAY VOTE FOR ONE REPRESENTATIVE FROM EACH DISTRICT.
The Buncombe County Schools’ Vision Statement is: Buncombe County Schools’ students will reach their full potential and become successful, responsible citizens in a diverse, global society. Consistent with the vision of the Buncombe County Schools are the principles of development of STEM skills. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
North Carolina recognizes development of STEM skills integrated in the critical 21st Century skills required for successful citizenship is central to the critical development of a high-skilled, knowledge based economy driven by technology and innovation. Implementation of such skill development into the curriculum ensures our students graduate with the capabilities of critical and adaptable thinking.
To be successful, the STEM program must be a collaborative effort with educators, public and private resources throughout our community. This collaborative effort will connect the many “islands of excellence” across our region. Buncombe County Schools’ Strategic Plan, adopted by the Board of Education on April 12, 2012, includes our participation in the North Carolina STEM Learning Network. This participation includes our provision of more courses focusing on STEM being made available to our students and increasing STEM emphasis throughout our K-12 curriculum. This is to be accomplished through three primary strategies: (1) identify and collaborate with businesses and community partners, (2) implementing Project Lead The Way (PLTW), and (3) provision of curriculum support and new data-driven resources to place students in the most rigorous and appropriate science and mathematics courses. We have a STEM Committee working closely with our professional educators and the community to establish the relationships to connect those “islands of excellence”.
Project Lead the Way is the leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM education curricular programs. These programs are developed for middle and high schools. We began implementation of these programs at Enka Middle, Erwin Middle and Valley Springs Middle schools in the fall of 2011. The remaining schools are being brought on board in 2012 and 2013. These programs incorporate collaborative, creative, critical thinking centered on vital fields of learning and essential professions. The curriculum fuels imaginative thinking, creative problem solving and innovative solutions.
To provide our high school age students with the STEM curriculum, we are planning a STEM High School. We are hopeful we will be able to begin instruction in this program in the Spring Semester of 2014. We plan on opening the program with 100 mainly 9th grade students with an additional 140 9th – 12th graders by the 2017 or sooner. This program’s facility will provide for group and lecture classrooms, collaborative and dynamic spaces such as learning labs while provide a sense of school community.
Christy Cheek, Director of Career Technical Education, oversees the Project Lead The Way programs in Buncombe County Schools. STEM related occupations include engineering, health services, life and physical science, computer and information technology, mathematics and “green” jobs. These career and professional occupations will be essential to the success of our youth and our community.
Buncombe County School’s budget is $218 million dollars and consists of over 60,000 line items. 85% of the budget is associated with the cost of people. In 2011-12, 61% of BCS funding came from the state; 25% from the county; 14% federal. A detailed line item budget is available at the following link on the Buncombe County website. http://www.buncombe.k12.nc.us/Page/27033
The past four years has seen a decrease in funding for public education and Buncombe County Schools. The School Board and administration have focused our limited resources on the following priorities ensuring: that high school students are able to meet the graduation requirements; that elementary students receive a sound k-3 foundation of balanced literacy; that progress toward equity in curriculum is achieved across all districts; that the dropout rate continues to decline; and that technology integration occurs in k-12 classrooms across curriculum. These priorities, revisited often, have provided a valuable resource for Board’s decision-making process.
Numerous budget meetings are held throughout the year with many different groups and constitutes including: leadership team, principals, advisory boards, parent groups and public surveys. In a typical year, the school board has several work sessions on the budget. In addition, the school board approves about 9 budget amendments a year. Timing of our budget is always a challenge. Although we had a draft 2012-13 line item budget available in January, the actual state budget wasn’t approved by the Governor until July 2012. By law, the county school budget must be presented to the commissioners in May and an interim budget must be in place by June 30th 2012. Well before the actual state budget is passed.
Buncombe County Schools Finance office has won numerous awards for financial reporting and management. For the past 22 years, the finance department has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. http://www.buncombe.k12.nc.us/cms/lib5/NC01000308/Centricity/Domain/12/CAFR_6-30-2011.pdf Our school district has also received 10 times the State Board of Education Award for Excellence in Financial Management. Unusual for a district our size to win, the award recognizing Local Education Agencies doing an exceptional job handling state funds.
Buncombe County Schools Funded Lower Than Most School Systems
- Although the BCS $218 million operating budget may sound large, Buncombe County Schools ranks 85th in the state in per pupil funding although it’s the 11th largest school system in the state. The education of Buncombe County School students is funded at a lower level than the vast majority of students across the state and across the country: only $7607 per BCS pupil compared to the North Carolina average of $8409, and the national average of $10,615. (North Carolina ranks 45th in the U.S. in per pupil spending).
- The Civitas Institute reports that on average, North Carolina taxpayers spend $142,027 to educate one high school graduate. But in Buncombe County, per their study, that cost is only $127,294. By comparison, the cost to graduate a student in Asheville City Schools is $185,356 according to the same report. (http://www.nccivitas.org/2010/how -much-does-it-cost-educate-high-school-graduate/ June 2, 2011)
- The Buncombe County Schools Central Office has fewer administrators to run the school system than all but 9 other school systems in the state: only .63 administrators per thousand students (don’t miss the decimal in the .63)!
- A significant change to the district’s $218 million Operating Budget has been the increased percentage of federal funds. However, the following two federal funding sources will dry up within the next two years– sources which currently support human resources and educational initiatives: EduJobs–$5.28 million received in October, 2010 will end on September 30, 2012; Race to the Top (RttT)–$2.9 million received in November of 2010 will end on December 23, 2014.
For additional information on Buncombe County schools budget, please visit the district website. Available to all is a line-item budget, financial reports, capital outlay budget, list of other financial awards and detailed information on how the school board allocates resources.
To make noise, a whistle must have the whistle body, air and a pea (the small ball inside the whistle). The term whistle-blowing has come to mean raising attention to some wrongdoing. Much like a referee on a playing field, a whistle-blower blows the whistle and to cry “foul”. If there is no legitimacy to the whistle-blower’s alleged foul, it is much like the whistle being blown is without its pea … in that case, there is just hot air.
Recently, the band of candidates backed by the Tea Party PAC Buncombe Forward and touted by Board member Lisa Baldwin have tried to blow their first whistle. As the whistle had no pea, it produced no sound.
The first inaccurate allegation: Academic performance has not improved
Why that whistle is missing its pea (the allegation is inaccurate and without merit):
Buncombe County Schools’ students have the third highest SAT scores among school systems with more than two high schools. Only Chapel Hill-Carrborro City and Wake County have higher scores. Among all 115 school systems in North Carolina (including those with only one or two high schools) Buncombe County ranks fifth.
For the second consecutive year, Buncombe County Schools is one of only 381 systems in the Nation to be placed on the Advanced Placement Achievement List for increased student participation in AP courses and for maintaining high scores at level three or greater.
In 2012, Buncombe County Early College and Cane Creek Middle School have been recognized as “Honor Schools of Excellence”. Statewide, only 11.2% of all schools achieve recognition as an “Honor School of Excellence”. Fifteen of our schools have been recognized in 2012 as “Schools of Distinction”. Statewide, only 28.4% of schools achieve recognition as a “School of Distinction”.
80% of all Buncombe County School students graduate within four years of starting high school. T.C. Roberson students are graduating at a 90.9% rate. Buncombe Early College has a 90% 5-year graduation rate. The Buncombe Early College students take additional college level classes and many graduate with an Associate’s Degree simultaneously with their high school diploma.
Due to a collaborative effort of the Buncombe County School educators and counselors , the Graduation Initiative Team, Eblen Charities and other community partners, we have had a 35% decrease in the drop-out rate since 2006-2007.
Not only has individual student academic performance improved, the school system as a whole has improved with the efforts of the Board of Education, administration, educators, students, parents and community.
The second inaccurate allegation: A system that is unaccountable to parents & taxpayers
Why that whistle is missing its pea:
At the beginning of each year parents of Buncombe County School students are immediately aware of the encouragement by both teachers’ and the school system’s desire for the parents to be as engaged and involved as possible in their student’s school activities and in those of the school system. From classroom volunteers to Advisory Councils and PTAs/PTOs at each school, from formal and informal meetings with the principals regarding school and community events to participation in one of the many Superintendent’s Advisory Council’s, from public meetings held by the Board of Education to phone, e-mail and paper flyer information conveyances to the public, from web-polling and phone surveys to informal drop-is to the offices of the teachers, principals and Superintendent, the parents and other members of the community are encouraged to both participate in the school community; and, these opportunities allow the community to communicate ideas, interests, concerns and kudos to the educators. In addition, the Buncombe County Schools website (http://www.buncombe.k12.nc.us) and each individual school’s site (where many teachers have their own web page for information for parents and students) provide significant information to make sure the community is aware of the events, activities and opportunities at our schools.
The Board’s activities such as budget adoption, calendar adoptions, and policy changes are conducted by the Board at monthly meetings. Projects such as development of the budget and calendar require significant input from a variety of expert sources and involve numerous planning meetings before being brought to the Board. Regarding one of the recent buzzwords of popular culture … “transparency”, we are one of only two school systems in North Carolina to have received an “A” from “North Carolina Transparency”.
The third inaccurate allegation: Many students are without basic school supplies
Why that whistle is missing its pea:
Not only do Buncombe County School students have basic supplies, our students have some of the best equipment and resources available. With the introduction of advanced technology, our classrooms have or are being outfitted with smart boards, computers, and some of today’s latest technology. Interestingly, a recent conversation with a parent who moved from Buncombe County to the Triangle area revealed the requirement in the Triangle area school to buy virtually every item used in the student’s art class; this parent noted she never had to do this when her child was taking art in Buncombe County. Another parent recently revealed another Triangle area school was asking students to bring toilet paper in to their schools. Unlike these other schools, Buncombe County schools not only provide basic supplies, but are ensuring our students have the supplies and equipment needed to excel.
In a community with more than 25,500 students and in a school system with 55% of the students who need and receive free or reduced meals, there are certainly needs in our community for school supplies, clothing and food. The collaborative efforts of our school community work to meet the needs of these students and their families. Each day, fellow students, parents, educators, friends, family, businesses and organizations such as Eblen Charities work to ensure these students and their families get the helping hand they desperately need. To make sure our students received a nutritious meal during the summer, Buncombe County Schools recently served more than 53,300 meals during the summer to youth in our community. Recognizing the benefits of a wholesome breakfast on a student’s ability to learn and excel during the school day, Buncombe County Schools has implemented a breakfast program where each student can eat breakfast each day, without charge. Recently parents heralded this program for not only ensuring their students received breakfast so they could start their day without hunger, but students sang the praises of the breakfast program as an enjoyable time to eat and spend time with their friends before school.
The fourth inaccurate allegation: $236,000 wasted on Solyndra-style” boondoggle
Why that whistle is missing its pea:
Enka High School had a 28-year-old roof which had a life expectancy of 20 – 25 years. The Enka roof replacement was on the annual re-roofing program. An innovative and educational opportunity was presented to the Board of Education. This opportunity may result in installation of solar and geothermal collectors on the roof at Enka High School to assist in generating hot water and electricity. If completed, this project will result in significant income to the schools offsetting any costs, and will provide students throughout Buncombe County an educational opportunity through energy monitoring and usage programs which can be integrated into the curriculum. Providing real-world experiences with tangible, local examples is enrichment to the school day for our students. Almost 85% of what is alleged to be a boondoggle was the cost of the roof which was to be installed regardless of whether we embark on a solar project at the school. The solar developer continues to seek a partner to complete this project. Regardless of whether the solar project moves forward, the Enka High students have received the roof that was scheduled to be replaced.
The fifth inaccurate allegation: Contracts without competitive bids
Why that whistle is missing its pea:
North Carolina requires certain purchases and certain activities documented with a contract to go through a formal bidding process. Because the bidding process is time-consuming and costly, the State does not require all purchase and all contractually documented activities to go through a bidding process. To do so would essentially stifle the daily operations of the schools. Buncombe County Schools complies with the legal requirements for purchasing and the competitive bidding process. The allegation is an assertion without wrongdoing or merit.
The sixth inaccurate allegation: Toxic Board of Education building and property
Why that whistle is missing it’s pea:
In 1989 the Buncombe County Board of Education purchased a parcel of land previously owned by Square D/Schneider Electric. The street address for this parcel was and is 175 Bingham Road, Asheville. The portion of the Square D/Schneider Electric property on the other side of Bingham Road, with the address 128 Bingham Road, was sold to ASC Business Park, LLC in 2005. Groundwater monitoring has been ongoing at both sites on both sides of Bingham Road since the 1990’s. Remedial actions including pumping and treating groundwater to reduce any contaminates have been ongoing since 1994 with the oversight of the regulatory jurisdiction of the Division of Water Quality’s Aquifer Protection Section (APS). Almost all of the needed remediation activity occurs on the other side of Bingham Road from the School property. Square D/Schneider Electric remain responsible for any remediation needed. In 2007 – 2008 NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources transferred oversight of the property on both sides of Bingham Road to the Division of Waste Management’s Inactive Hazardous Sites Branch. In 2008 this Division notified Square D/Schneider to continue assessment and remediation through the Division’s privatized remediation program because no drinking water impacts or direct contact issues had been identified.
At the direction of NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, additional studies were conducted by Square D’s contractor and a split sample was obtained by the Board of Education contractor in August 2012 on the site at 175 Bingham Road, the Buncombe County School Administration site. The results revealed no detection of the chemicals tested. Square D/Schneider Electric has agreed to drill another well at the direction of NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources. This well is closer in proximity to the building. The results from this test will determine whether any other testing is warranted.
It is important to note, the water used at the Buncombe County Schools site on 175 Bingham Road is provided by the City of Asheville and is NOT from any source on Bingham Road.
The seventh inaccurate allegation: Junk food pushed on our kids
Why that whistle is missing its pea:
Buncombe County Schools’ Child Nutrition Department serves more than 17,000 students plus faculty and visitors at cafeterias in 42 school facilities daily. Our cafeterias provide settings for our students to get a healthy meal, enjoy time with their friends, and learn about good nutrition. With cafeterias being a part of the learning experience, our students have opportunities to learn about nutritional alternatives and to try new foods. Each meal in Buncombe County Schools has five components: a protein, a bread, two different fruits and vegetables, and milk. Students are encouraged to take all five components, but they must take at least three. Our middle, intermediate and high school students have an opportunity to purchase additional items. High School students are also allowed to purchase a la carte items, with more flexibility in choice than at the middle and intermediate schools. At the elementary schools, the a la carte items include: 100 calorie cookie or cracker packs, go-gurt (yogurt), baked potato chips, sherbet cup, or applesauce. At the middle and high schools, the a la carte items include: more drink choices such as Gatorade, Lipton Teas, juice slushies, and animal crackers.
The focus on nutrition by the Child Services Department is evident not only in the cafeterias, but in reviewing the menus sent home with each student, the menus found on-line and the posting of nutritional analysis information. (https://www.buncombe.k12.nc.us/domain/46) The nutritional analysis information allows parents and students to see essentially the same nutritional information for each menu item as found on individual products in our own pantries. With this access, a parent and student can see important information such as calories, fat, sodium, and vitamins in each menu item. The menus and nutritional information is posted each month during the school year.
The eighth inaccurate allegation: Detailed budgets not available to the public
Why that whistle is missing its pea:
The budget process undertaken by the Buncombe County Schools is a complex and engaging endeavor. It begins with numerous meetings among key personnel accumulating the historical data from prior years to project the needs of the school system for the budget year being planned. With 42 schools, more than 25,500 students, the second largest employer in the County, the operations and capital budgets for the 11th largest school system in North Carolina require a lot of planning and preparation. After key personnel hammer out the framework for the budget, public meetings with the Board of Education are held. These informational meetings provide the Board and the public the details of how the proposed budget was developed, for what funds are allocated, and the rationale for the recommendations for each element of the budget. The proposed budget is made available to the public, including being posted on the Buncombe County Schools’ website. Only after the Board has had ample opportunity to review the details of the proposed budget, and consider possible amendments thereto, is the budget voted on and adopted by the Board. The Buncombe County School website includes the line-item budget accessible to the public. (https://www.buncombe.k12.nc.us/domain/12) The budget process is both transparent and inclusive.
The ninth inaccurate allegation: Big raises for administrators, while teacher get nothing
Why that whistle is missing its pea:
Salaries for educators are established by a State salary schedule. This is true whether the educator is a teacher or administrator. The salary of an educator depends on the level of education earned, years of service to the profession and occupation of the educator. Information about the State Salary Schedule can be obtained from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. (http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/finance/salary/schedules/2012-13schedules.pdf ) Due to Legislative action, North Carolina ranks a projected 44th in the nation for teacher salaries, yet our teachers lead the nation in Nationally Board Certified Teachers. The Buncombe County Commissioners have worked with the Board of Education for many years to provide a supplement to our educators in an effort to ensure our educators can enjoy their chosen profession and earn an income to support themselves and their families. The allegation raised is without merit or factual basis.
A whistle with no pea produces no sound. An allegation with no factual support
Unlike those candidates backed by those who will take Buncombe Backward, we are putting students first in our decision-making. We appreciate your continued support.
Ann Franklin, Chip Craig, Dusty Pless & Steven Sizemore
Seven members from our County represent the interests of the students, parents, and other community members on the Buncombe County Board of Education. Each member is selected in a county-wide election (excluding the City School District). The seven members are designated as representatives elected from each of the six high school districts and one at-large member. Those representatives designated from each of the six high school districts must live in the district in which they are the designated representative. Representatives serve four-year terms; and, are elected on an alternating basis with four members being elected in one election cycle and the remaining three members being elected in a cycle two years thereafter. The Chair of the Board is elected by the Board members on an annual basis at the December meeting.
The Board has general control and supervision of all matters pertaining to the public schools in Buncombe County. In exercising this supervision and control the Board adopts policies and procedures compliant with Federal and State regulations, consistent with the requirements from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and directives of the North Carolina Board of Education. Importantly, the Board works within the guidelines of these various regulations and requirements to adopt policies and procedures allowing our Buncombe County Schools to successfully operate utilizing recommendations from educators, staff and the community; this practice allows local control over our curriculum process and provides an opportunity to inject the local culture into our school system.
While each high school district has a designated representative, and there is one at-large member, each member represents the interest of each district. The purpose of a designated representative from each district is to ensure a member of each district community is serving on the Board. The Board members recognize the system as a whole is only successful if each district succeeds. For this reason, the Board seeks to ensure equitable opportunities are available among the districts.
The Board hires the Superintendent. The Board reviews and approves the hiring of school system personnel recommended by the Superintendent; and, the Superintendent determines the assignment of personnel to the various schools and departments. Qualified Directors work with the Superintendent in managing the various departments ensuring efficient operation of our system. The Superintendent reports the operational activities of the schools to the Board and the public.
Judicial functions are performed by the Board when issues regarding personnel or student discipline are appealed from an administrative decision. The specific process for these appeals vary, but generally the Board conducts hearings with the personnel, student and/or representatives for each to allow the Board to make informed decisions about the issue in question. To protect the privacy rights of personnel and students, these hearings are conducted in sessions closed to the public.
Some of the operations of the Board which get significant attention include creation of District policies, adoption of the school calendar, adoption of the operating and capital budgets, and building of schools. Each of these operations is an involved undertaking, with many people and much time required in the process. For example, a recent religious expression issue raised very passionate community interest; and, this interest resulted in several meetings with significant public input. To adequately address the desires of the community, the Superintendent established a Faith-based Advisory Council who has worked with him to help bring about policies and procedures which have been adopted by the Board to allow our community’s desires to be met. The school calendar is approved by the Board about 11 months prior to the beginning of the school year covered by the calendar. This provides families opportunity to plan accordingly. The calendar is adopted after a committee of parents, students and educators collaborate in development of a proposed calendar based on regulations from the State and considering our local needs. Budgets are adopted following numerous meetings in which the Superintendent and Directors provide input and analysis from their Departments. This is a lengthy and complex process, and is conducted in meetings open to the public. The Superintendent and Directors measure the trends of community growth to determine recommendations for building new school facilities. While community population may increase or decrease on an annual basis, in order to adequately plan for the community’s long-term needs, the Board looks at long-term trends, development patterns, growth patterns to determine when new facilities, or additions to existing facilities are needed.
Most importantly, the Board members are each engaged in the community. The involvement in community based activities provides the members with the perspective to best serve the community. Participating in clubs, organizations, going to school events, helping at school functions, working or volunteering in the community, volunteering in the classroom, talking with students, parents, educators, and other community members helps a Board member make decisions which are in the best interests of the students in Buncombe County.
The Board of Education is comprised of seven members of the community, representative of the community, and whose members oversee the operations of the school system. The members of the Board do, and should, make decisions in the best interests of the students. To quote Board member Chip Craig (Owen District): “The role of the school board is to provide oversight of the school system and to empower the administration, teachers and staff to do all they can with limited resources to maximize student achievement and prepare Buncombe County students to be productive citizens in a global economy.”
Ann Franklin, Chip Craig, Dusty Pless and Steven Sizemore will continue to make decisions in the best interests of the students by putting students first in that decision-making process.
The Buncombe School Board meeting on Thursday, September 6 was informative & inspirational. Our flag was presented by the Enka ROTC & Boy Scouts from Troop 53 led the Pledge. Superintendent Tony Baldwin commended students, educators and parents for the smooth start to the ’12-’13 school year. The 10-day enrollment is 25,659, which is an increase of 88 students from last year. The most notable increases are in the Roberson District at all levels. Training is being provided to the educators regarding religious diversity pursuant to Policy 652 (“Religion In the Schools”). The head of FLS, the entity engaged in the potential construction of solar panels at Enka High, has reported to our Facilities Director, Tim Fierle, that he is having cautiously encouraging conversations with several potential investors for the project.
The Super Summer Meal program served more than 53,300 meals to young people in Buncombe County. We heard from parents, the Executive Director of Children’s First and the Director of Communications from MANNA praising the program. One morning, a Buncombe County Schools employee pulled up to a meal site and saw a little boy sitting on the curb. The little boy said he had recently moved from another state and remarked “they didn’t care about us there. Thank you for caring about us.” At Pole Creek Baptist Church, the members were aware of children who needed meals, so they went out into the community and brought those children to the site so they could have a nutritious meal. Thanks to Lynette Vaughn-Hensley for her hard work in this worthwhile project.
We heard the success of the Graduation Initiative supported in large part by Eblen Charities. Since the implementation of the Graduation Initiative, Buncombe County Schools has a worked to achieve a 35% decrease in drop-outs. The graduation rate for students earning their degree in four years is 80%. Erwin & Roberson were recognized for decrease in drop out rates and increase in graduation rates. Congratulations to both schools and the successful students.
The AIG program was spotlighted as the Curriculum Feature of the Month. Dr. Rick Courtright spoke to parents interested in the AIG program at a meeting on Wednesday, 9/5 at TC Roberson. Dr. Courtright currently works with Duke University, is a graduate of Erwin High School and taught at Valley Springs.
The Calendar Committee consisting of 31 parents, students & educators are meeting on 3 occasions (9/18, 10/2 and 10/23) to develop a calendar for ’13-’14. The proposed calendar will be available to the public for consideration, including a parent survey, prior to its being presented to the Board in November.
Due to unfounded and inaccurate allegations of wrongdoing by the Maintenance Department, the Maintenance Director was supported without equivocation by the Superintendent, the Buncombe County Deputy Fire Chief and the Buncombe County Director of Inspections. The Deputy Fire Marshal inspects each Buncombe County school two times per year; and, he complemented the efficiency with which the Buncombe County Schools Maintenance Department responded to any issues needing to be addressed. Gregg Foxx does an excellent job on behalf of the students and families in Buncombe County.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Natural Resources along with independent laboratories have conduced testing of the groundwater wells on the Buncombe County Administrative facility site. These wells were put in place in the 1990’s as a result of the hazardous waste issues from operations by Square D and Champion Manufacturing. The testing has revealed no detectable hazards. It should be noted, the Buncombe County Schools facility has, and continues, to utilize City of Asheville water, rather than well water. Additional testing is occurring and the Board will have a workshop on this issue in the near future.
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 4 at 6:30pm.
Anyone who has planned a menu for a week’s worth of family meals knows the task is not easy. Making sure each meal is tasty, nutritious, and within budget is a challenge family’s face daily. Imagine doing this for about 20,000 people … for 183 days!
The Child Nutrition Department of Buncombe County Schools meets this challenge every day of the school year. Like our families, the Child Nutrition Department goes to the market. The “market” for our school system is primarily (1) USDA Commodities, (2) the Western Food Cooperative, and (3) winning bid vendors. In January the Child Nutrition Department is informed of the value of commodities to be provided through the USDA for the following school year. An additional allotment for the upcoming year is provided through a program “Farm to School”. This additional USDA allotment includes fresh fruit and vegetables from our Nation’s farmers. Through the Western Food Cooperative five school systems join Buncombe County to combine purchasing power to obtain products from food vendors. Buncombe County Schools also shops as an individual system with food vendors for products such as breads, milk and vegetables. All foods purchased by the Buncombe County Schools’ Child Nutrition Department must meet Federal and State nutrition guidelines.
Buncombe County Schools’ Child Nutrition Department serves more than 17,000 students plus faculty and visitors at cafeterias in 41 school facilities daily. Our cafeterias provide settings for our students to get a healthy meal, enjoy time with their friends, work on tomorrow’s homework (or put polishing finish on today’s homework), and learn about good nutrition. Child Nutrition Director, Lynette Vaughn-Hensely works with Cafeteria Mangers at each school to provide high quality food, excellent service and good nutrition at a reasonable cost.
How are school menus created?
Like meals prepared in our homes, school cafeteria meals are largely determined by what is available in the “pantry”, Federal and State nutrition regulations, diner preferences, and matching entrées with suitable and tasty vegetables. Each item prepared in the cafeterias in our 41 schools is prepared with consistency based on recipes established and approved by the Child Nutrition Department. Cafeteria workers offer suggestions for recipe improvement; and, these are tested and determined for appropriateness by the Child Nutrition Department.
In order to ensure our students are all able to afford a healthy meal, the Board of Education works to keep costs to each student are low. This school year, based on requirements from the USDA, the Board of Education needed to increase meal prices for an Elementary lunch to $2.10, an Intermediate lunch to $2.10, Middle and High School lunches to $2.35. At the Middle and High Schools, students can purchase a meal with extra entree’ servings for $2.75.
Students have choices
At our school cafeterias our students have choices. With cafeterias being part of the learning experience, our students have opportunities to learn about nutritional alternatives and try new foods. Each meal has five components: a protein, a bread, two different fruits and vegetables, and milk. Students are encouraged to take all five components, but they must take at least three. Our middle, intermediate and high school students have an opportunity to purchase additional items. High School students are also allowed to purchase a la carte items, with more flexibility in choice than at the middle and intermediate schools. At the elementary schools, the a la carte items include: 100 calorie cookie or cracker packs, go-gurt (yogurt), baked potato chips, sherbet cup, or applesauce. At the middle and high schools, the a la carte items include: more drink choices such as Gatorade, Lipton Teas, juice slushies, and animal crackers.
This summer, the Board of Education, Buncombe County Commissioners, and leadership from the YMCA of Western NC joined a diverse group of partners to kick off the free “Super Summer Meals Program”. Buncombe County Schools, in partnership with the Buncombe County Parks, Recreation and Greenways, the YMCA of Western NC, No Kid Hungry North Carolina, and several state agencies, helped provide nutritious meals to area kids and teens. As one of 12 out of the State’s 115 school districts, Buncombe County Schools was selected to serve as a pilot for expanding summer meals. This pilot program is a collaboration between No Kid Hungry NC, the NC Department of Public Instruction, and the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health. Buncombe County Schools is receiving a mini-grant from No Kid Hungry to help defray operational expenses. Many summer meals sites, offered fun learning and recreational activities so kids and teens were able to eat a healthy meal while staying active and hanging out with friends. The “Super Summer Meals Program” provided meals free to children and teens ages 18 and younger at the meal sites. Food served met USDA nutrition guidelines and was paid for by the USDA. The summer meals sites were at schools, churches, community centers and other places that are safe for kids and teens to go.
The focus on nutrition by the Child Services Department is evident not only in the cafeterias, but in reviewing the menus sent home with each student, the menus found on-line and the posting of nutritional analysis information .The nutritional analysis information allows parents and students to see essentially the same nutritional information for each menu item as found on individual products in our own pantries. With this access, a parent and student can see important information such as calories, fat, sodium, and vitamins in each menu item. The menus and nutritional information is posted each month during the school year.
Grades for Cafeterias
Just as we are concerned about cleanliness in our own kitchens and in the restaurants where we enjoy a meal, parents and students are concerned about the cleanliness of the school cafeterias. The employees of the Child Nutrition Department want to make sure the cafeterias in which they work and in which they serve our students are clean and safe as well. These dedicated employees are proud of the grades they receive in school too … the grades from the Buncombe County Health Department. Those grades are posted for 2011 – 2012 ; and, the Child Nutrition Department provides a link to the Buncombe County Health Department site for individual review of more recent inspections.
The Board of Education works to make sure your students, our students, have opportunities for nutritional, balanced and wholesome meals in our schools. We will continue to provide the resources necessary to allow our Child Nutrition Department to serve our students and to teach nutrition in the cafeteria classroom. We will continue putting students first in our decisions.
Ann Franklin, Chip Craig, Dusty Pless & Steven Sizemore
Many think a new year begins on January 1; students, parents and educators know the new year begins around the middle of August. For Buncombe County School students, parents and educators, the new year began on Thursday, August 16, 2012.
The new year began with as much excitement as many experience at a New Year’s Eve party at the stroke of midnight. For those first-time students, parents and educators, the anticipation and excitement was seen in the beaming faces as the first day of school began. Along with the scores of new students being dropped off by those proud and tearful parents, there were many new teachers stepping into the mighty big shoes of educators that have moved to new adventures outside of the classroom. Be they new or experienced educators, our Buncombe County Schools have almost 2,000 teachers with 99% of these professional educators meeting the classification of “highly qualified”. For the second year in a row, Buncombe County Schools is ranked 19th in the United States for school systems having the most teachers with National Board Certification. We are very blessed that 3 out of 6 North Carolina finalists in the 2012 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are from Buncombe County Schools. These awards are the nation’s highest honor for mathematics and science teachers. The winners of these awards from our schools are: Meredith Stanley, Haw Creek Elementary (Mathematics Finalist),Teresa Cowan, Charles D. Owen Middle, and Georgina Ray, Joe P. Eblen Intermediate (Science Finalists).
Our students and educators begin the new school year in a season electrified with election excitement. Media outlets everywhere send information about the numerous races and candidates for election to us all day and all night. Each and every elected office is important. One of the elections that will directly impact the daily lives of the students, parents and educators in Buncombe County is the election for four of the seven seats on the Buncombe County Board of Education. We feel strongly, that a successful public education system in Buncombe County is critical to the well-being of our children, our community, and our future. We are committed to continuing our efforts to move the public school system in Buncombe County forward by putting students first.
Please support us in our efforts to continue the success of the Buncombe County Schools. … and stay tuned!
Ann Franklin, Chip Craig, Dusty Pless & Steve Sizemore