Several dozen community members came to the city-county school board meeting Tuesday to demand a reallocation of bond money to build a new Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies.
The group held a press conference before the meeting began and later interrupted the proceedings as some group members demanded action for Ashley. During the public comment session at the meeting, about a dozen speakers voiced their demands directly to the board.
#Action4Ashley was there to talk about the indoor air-quality concerns at Ashley, where a recent report found that while the building itself was clean and in good shape, there were concerns with evidence of mold growth on some HVAC units.
The Board of Education took the information from that report and approved money earlier this month to replace units over the summer, but the group is continuing to speak about the issue. They’re asking that money from the 2016 bond be reallocated toward a new Ashley Academy school building — asking that the Board of Education reach out to the county commissioners to do so.
“We’re at the beginning of the process,” the Rev. Alvin Carlisle, president of the local NAACP chapter, said on Tuesday. “We know it’s going to be a long haul, but we’re here until we see a new action.”
The group of a few dozen stood together next to the Education Building on Bethania Station Road, wearing matching shirts with #ActionForAshley written on the front, with “Not Another Brick” and “Not Another Bond” on the backs.
They held signs and chanted the slogan on the back of their shirts, as well as “What do we want? A new school. When do we want it? Now,” as cars passed by — some honking in approval.
#Action4Ashley is a coalition of several local organizations, consisting of the Winston-Salem Chapter of the NAACP, Ministers Conference, Action 4 Now Network, The Coalition for Equity in Public Education, Winston-Salem Local Organizing Committee, Parent Education Action Network and Drum Majors Alliance.
Some members of the organization and its supporters stayed for the Board of Education meeting, still holding signs and wearing the T-shirts.
Some spoke during the public comment period, asking why more efforts had not been taken to replace Ashley Academy’s building, in light of the indoor air-quality concerns. Before the public comment began, a few people were removed from the meeting for speaking out.
The Rev. Carl Manuel, education chairman for the Ministers Conference, compared the recent actions on Ashley to putting a Band-Aid on a wound.
Others spoke about how they felt the conditions at Ashley Academy and other schools with similar demographics have long been ignored and overlooked.
“We will not approve a new bond until you give us a new Ashley,” Carlisle said during public comment.