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Asheville City Schools Pauses Lucy S. Herring Plans, Seeks More Feedback

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Asheville City Schools Hits Pause on Part of Lucy S. Herring Plans, Asks for More Feedback

Leaders with Asheville City Schools are pressing pause on plans for closing an elementary school and relocating students while renovations take place.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Leaders with Asheville City Schools are pressing pause on plans for closing an elementary school and relocating students while renovations take place. In early March, officials said due to extensive renovations needed at Lucy S. Herring Elementary School, the school would be closed for the 2024-25 school year while repairs were made. Officials also said students would be moved to one of the district’s four other elementary schools during this time.

Then, on Friday, March 8, Asheville City Schools Superintendent Maggie Fehrman sent a letter to Lucy S. Herring Elementary families, announcing the district would put plans to close the school on hold while looking at ways to “possibly keep the school open with students in attendance.”

LUCY S. HERRING ELEMENTARY SET FOR MAJOR RENOVATIONS NEXT YEAR, STUDENTS TO RELOCATE

Dr. Fehrman apologized for the way the initial announcement was made, while asking families for more feedback. “I apologize this announcement took you by surprise,” Fehrman wrote in Friday’s letter. “Information about a construction project of this magnitude should have been shared with the community over a year ago when the initial plans were being drafted. I have already put proactive steps and accountability measures in place to ensure this never happens again…. I ask for your patience and invite you to help us explore viable options to keep students in the building while the construction takes place.”

District officials previously said the building, which is more than four decades old, needs extensive renovations, including upgrades to the heating and cooling systems, new bathrooms, new mechanical systems, new ceiling, new roof, new windows, kitchen upgrades, and a three-tiered security vestibule. According to the previous news release, the upgrades will impact classrooms, the media center, the playground area, the gym, and the cafeteria.

In Friday’s letter, Dr. Fehrman said renovations will continue with a start date of mid-June 2024, stressing that the “magnitude” of the project would have possible impacts “on the health, wellness, and the safety of our students and staff.” The superintended said she will be hosting “an additional in-depth construction meeting” at Lucy S. Herring on Thursday, March 14, at 5:30 p.m. in the planetarium. Suggestions and ideas are welcomed during the meeting, Dr. Fehrman said.

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN REPAIRS NEEDED AT ASHEVILLE CITY SCHOOLS

Below is the full letter sent to Lucy S. Herring Elementary School families on March 8, 2024:

Good evening, Lucy S. Herring Families,

I first want to thank you for sharing your feedback, suggestions, and ideas on the upcoming construction at LSH. I, along with the Board have heard your concerns about having to relocate the students to other schools and the significant impact this will have on them. I apologize this announcement took you by surprise. Information about a construction project of this magnitude should have been shared with the community over a year ago when the initial plans were being drafted. I have already put proactive steps and accountability measures in place to ensure this never happens again.

I have made the decision to take a pause and look at ways we could possibly keep the school open with students in attendance. I ask for your patience and invite you to help us explore viable options to keep students in the building while the construction takes place. I must stress the magnitude of this renovation project and the impact it will have on teaching and learning as well as the possible impact on the health, wellness, and the safety of our students and staff. The renovations will continue with a start date of mid-June 2024.

If you know that staying at LSH during construction is not a good option for your child, you still have the option to complete the transfer form for the 2024-2025 school year. The electronic transfer forms and school tour information will be sent out to all staff and parents tomorrow.

Additionally, for the 2024-2025 school year, we will still need to relocate the pre-K class to Hall Fletcher Elementary School, and we cannot enroll new LSH kindergarten students. This is due to the requirements for pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms. The enrollment office has already contacted every incoming kindergarten parent on Wednesday, March 7, via a phone call to let them know about the decision.

In addition to the individual calls, a follow-up email was sent to parents providing them with the opportunity to re-rank their schools of choice. I will be hosting an additional in-depth construction meeting at Lucy S. Herring on Thursday, March 14, at 5:30 in the planetarium. We will have Ronnie Lunsford, General Facilities Project Manager for Buncombe County General Services, in addition to representatives from Vannoy construction. At this meeting, we will provide visuals of how each area will be specifically impacted and a tentative schedule of how students and staff could be moved if they opt to remain in the building. I also welcome additional suggestions and ideas for how we can keep LSH open through this process.

Dr. Maggie Fehrman, Superintendent

This is a developing story. Check back at WLOS.com.

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