The location and construction timeline of a new Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies were among the top concerns at a community meeting Monday.
The purpose of the meeting was to collect feedback from the public on what they want to see in the new school.
Principal Scarlet Linville and district Superintendent Beverly Emory asked a group of a few dozen attendees about their priorities for the school. In attendance were parents, community members, a majority of school board members and a few county commissioners.
Emory said there have been discussions in closed session with staff and the school board to determine the best spot for the new Ashley building.
Those in attendance indicated they would like to see the school stay roughly within the same area.
“I think that was the main thing, and I think everyone was pretty vocal about wanting it to continue to serve the existing students who we serve now and I think that the district recognizes that,” Linville said.
Another question was on the timeline of the project.
Ashley Academy has been in the spotlight for the past year for concerns over indoor air quality. The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board and district decided on a new HVAC system as a temporary solution.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into the board’s and district’s response to the environmental concerns at Ashley. That investigation followed a complaint filed on behalf of Action4Equity. The complaint asked that a new school be built as soon as possible to remedy the situation.
The voter-approved 2016 bond included $900,000 to design a new Ashley, with that work planned for 2023. The actual construction timeline and allocation of funds has not been set yet, but there has been discussion that it would be included in the next bond referendum.
During the Building and Grounds Committee meeting on Jan. 8, staff was asked to provide the committee with options as to how the construction of a new Ashley could be moved up in the current bond. That information has not been brought back to the committee yet.
Board Chairwoman Malishai Woodbury said she was impressed not only with the community turnout, but to see parents there, as well. While there has been a lot of advocacy from the community for a new Ashley, Woodbury said it was good to see parents involved in the input process.
“I want to make sure that our parents feel more empowered to speak out so that the perception isn’t it’s what the community people want,” she said.
“But I think that it was well attended by way of community and parents, and I think that it shows and demonstrates a level of transparency from the school board and school perspective,” she added. “If we’re going in the direction of a new Ashley, it’s not going to be based on what the school district, the school board thinks. In our mind, what’s ideal is it’s from a community collaborative standpoint.”
Parents and community will have another opportunity Thursday to provide the district with feedback on the new Ashley school building. That meeting is scheduled for 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the school’s media center.
The school is located at 1647 Ashley School Circle, east of North Jackson Avenue.
“I think it’s great that the district is open to getting feedback and input, and I’m looking forward to Thursday,” Linville said.
Similarly, a community input meeting for a new Brunson Elementary School will be held at the school at 6 p.m. Monday. Brunson is located at 155 Hawthorne Road.
The 2016 bond package also included more than $27 million to replace Brunson’s current building.
That project is in the planning process, with design work to start this spring and construction in early 2020. It’s expected to be completed in 2022.