Asheville City Schools and A-B Tech recently presented budget proposals to the Buncombe County Commissioners.
Tag-teaming, Amanda Kraus encouraged everybody to watch the film, “Equal Means Equal,” directed by Pamela Lopez. She said she had collected 921 signatures from Buncombe County residents who support the resolution and closed saying she’d, “continue gathering until we can hold a beautiful presentation here for y’all.”
In the 1970s, the ERA was met with considerable resistance. Opponents believed some wordings would be used to justify men using women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, requiring women to submit to the draft, eliminating the concept of a women’s college or women’s dorm, paving the way for gay marriage, supporting universal abortion, ending groups like the Boy Scouts or girls’ softball teams, or even requiring women to hold the priesthood in churches that choose to reserve that role for men. Back in the day, it was believed the amendment would encourage women to join the workforce at the expense of rearing children, and that would lead to neglect and delinquency.
Seeing what has happened on those fronts, one might resolve the only thing left to fear is fear itself. As the meeting proceeded, it continued to challenge the vestiges of stay-at-home moms baking apple pies in aprons and high heels. This year’s cohort of Foster Family Appreciation Month recognitions included a gay couple.
It was also YWCA of Asheville Month, and CEO Beth Maczka gave a brief history. It included many heart-warming milestones along the path to desegregation and promotion of self-sufficiency for people of all stripes. It also told of the organization progressively providing childcare, lobbying so pregnant teens wouldn’t have to drop out of school, creating a support group for pregnant teens, and providing childcare for student parents. 33 teen parents participated in the organization’s Mother Love this year.
In Other Matters –
The commissioners heard budget proposals from Asheville City Schools and AB Tech. Buncombe County Schools was unable to present, because it had not yet held its prerequisite board meeting.
The ACS budget was clearly a continuation, with only a few modifications. Superintendent Dr. Bobby Short said the student population had increased 20 percent over the last six years, and it would outgrow current capacity by 2020. She believed building the new Asheville Middle School actually convinced many parents to keep their kids in public schools.
Another problem was House Bill 13. Ratified and going into effect next school year, it capped the number of students allowed in classrooms at 18, 16, 17, and 17 for kindergarten and first, second, and third grades, respectively; allowing up to three extras in mitigating circumstances. Compliance was going to require new teachers and more classrooms. To adjust, ACS will open a STEM school called the Montford North Star Academy and add elementary school classes to Asheville Primary. Many classes will be split-grade. On the bright side financially, Chair Brownie Newman suggested small class size may reduce the need for teacher assistants. The school system is also trying to put a dent in unmet demand for daycare in Buncombe County.
Overall, Short asked the county for $11,537,436, a 5-percent increase over last year’s budget. Funds would pay and equip teachers, support staff, and administrators; some of whom would drift among schools. The list included an assistant principal to help “manage our students and make sure they’re safe,” two Day Treatment teacher assistants, one school resource officer, and a guidance counselor. When Commissioner Ellen Frost asked what the Day Treatment hires would do, Short replied, “I have been out of the school business for three years now, and I will tell you that I have been amazed this year as I came back at the needs of our children, in terms of mental health, facilities, and just help for those children.”
Commissioner Al Whitesides concurred. “Since I rotated off the school board four years ago, it’s unreal how it’s changed and the challenges that they have,” he said of his weekly visits to the middle school. He cautioned against using SRO’s as disciplinarians, when they’re supposed to be building bridges. Frost asked if having more mental care specialists in the classrooms might help kids more than SRO’s. Short hesitated, as if further study were needed.