Overbudget on Enka Intermediate School
The school board didn’t blink an eye when the cost of the new intermediate construction came in at $26.6 million, $1.6 million more than the amount of $25 million approved by the Board (6-1 vote) in April, 2014. According to information presented at the work session, the $26.6 million includes the site preparation work, building construction, furniture and equipment. The $2.2 million cost of the land was not included in the total.
The school board approved a loan of $25 million. However, the document voted on by the school board did not include the $3.1 million for the site preparation. Tim Fierle, BCS Facilities Director, did not respond to an email sent to clarify the total. The COPS (Certificate of Participation) loan is in lieu of a voter referendum. No citizen vote is required and the loan doesn’t count against the county’s AAA credit rating.
The Enka Intermediate is an expensive school, costing about $200 per square foot. Koontz Intermediate cost $137.32 per square foot and Eblen Intermediate cost $153.51 per square foot. The difference is that the Koontz and Eblen construction contracts were awarded to the lowest bidder. The Enka school contractor (Construction Manager at Risk) was chosen based on qualifications, not price. Enka representative, Max Queen, responded “that the need for the school validates any cost overrun. With all the construction going on in the county, the whole climate has changed.” County school enrollment has been declining for two years and Buncombe has over 3,000 empty seats in our public schools.
During the superintendent comment period, presentations were heard from Koontz Intermediate staff/students regarding a plan to potentially implement a school uniform policy this fall. The Reynolds Mountain Homeowners Association raised $50,000 for technology at Woodfin Elementary School. Central office staff also presented results of a parent survey; concerns with declining enrollment compelled Buncombe to examine parent and student needs.
Swim Team Concerns
A swim coach and a parent expressed concerns that the Zeugner pool is closing without a transition plan.
The school district will dispose of an unneeded property (52 Liberty St.) next to Oakley Elementary School. The county paid $89,000 for the house and lot which will be offered to the county to sell as surplus unless they reject it. The Preservation Society Director talked of keeping neighborhood integrity intact; if the school board demolishes the house, it would be like a “missing tooth”. The Society would like the dilapidated house but spoke of moving it and selling the land. All profits would go into the society’s fund. Mr. Tim Fierle, BCS Facilities Director, has been the Preservation Society’s awards program coordinator in the past.
Opportunity Scholarship Application Period Opens
N.C. parents may now apply for $4200 scholarships to send their child(ren) to private school at http://www.ncseaa.edu/K-12Grants.htm. Income restrictions have been loosened; e.g., a family of four earning $58,000 per year is eligible to apply if their children have attended a public school during the 2015 spring semester. Those entering kindergarten or first grade are not required to have attended a public school.
School Performance Grades
The North Carolina General Assembly passed a law in 2012, and updated it in 2013, requiring the state Department of Public Instruction to give a grade — A through F — to each school as a way to let parents know how local schools are performing and as part of an overall approach to reforming education.
Schools are graded on a 15 point scale, using test scores (80%) and student growth (20%) to calculate a letter grade. High school performance grades include graduation rates, ACT scores, ACT Work Keys, Math I, English II, Biology and participation in Math III.
According to Vanessa Jeter, N.C. DPI Communications Director, “State Supt. Atkinson noted that in face to face meetings with General Assembly staff, she asked that a different scale other than 10 points be used. A 15-point scale was one that was suggested.” The NCGA approved this concession but next year the state will move to a 10-point scale, meaning many letter grades will be lower. With the 15-point scale, 40 is a passing score. Next year, 60 will be the passing score.
Note that while charter schools failing to meet the needs of students are forced to close, low-performing traditional public schools remain open.
SPG = School Performance Grade/Score
A = 85-100
B = 70-84
D = 40-54
F = Less than 40 points
READING MATH OVERALL
SCHOOL NAME SPG SPG SPG SPG ACHIEVEMENT
GRADE SCORE GRADE GRADE SCORE*
Buncombe County Schools 60 60
Reynolds High B 72 74
Reynolds Middle C 67 C C 62
Barnardsville Elementary C 64 C C 59
Black Mountain Elementary C 68 C C 69
Black Mountain Primary B 72 B C 70
Buncombe County Early College A 92 94
Candler Elementary C 61 C C 60
Cane Creek Middle B 75 B B 74
Bell Elementary C 67 C C 64
Owen High B 70 68
Owen Middle C 58 C D 55
Erwin High C 58 58
Erwin Middle C 55 C D 54
Emma Elementary D 52 D C 43
Enka High C 58 60
Fairview Elementary C 69 C C 64
Glen Arden Elementary B 78 B B 77
Haw Creek Elementary C 65 C C 66
Hominy Valley Elementary C 68 C B 67
Johnston Elementary D 48 D D 40
Leicester Elementary C 66 C C 60
North Buncombe Elementary C 64 C C 59
North Buncombe High B 75 73
North Buncombe Middle C 61 C D 63
North Windy Ridge Intermediate C 68 C B 65
Oakley Elementary C 56 C D 50
Pisgah Elementary B 80 B B 78
Enka Middle C 58 C D 58
Sand Hill-Venable Elem C 57 C C 57
Avery’s Creek Elementary C 60 C C 60
Williams Elementary C 59 C C 56
Roberson High B 75 77
Valley Springs Middle B 71 C C 67
Estes Elementary C 68 B C 70
Weaverville Elementary B 70 B C 69
West Buncombe Elementary B 73 B B 69
Woodfin Elementary D 53 D C 49
Koontz Intermediate C 62 C C 63
Eblen Intermediate D 51 D D 48
Asheville City Schools
Asheville High C 69 71
Hall Fletcher Elementary C 58 D C 53
Isaac Dickson Elementary B 80 B B 80
Claxton Elementary B 76 B B 73
Ira B Jones Elementary C 69 C C 68
Asheville Middle C 65 C C 63
Vance Elementary B 78 B B 74
School of Inquiry and Life Sciences A 90 90