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NCDOT's I-26 Connector Project & Its Impact on Asheville Primary

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.