The Transylvania Times -

By John Lanier
Editor 

Parents Query Possible School Move - Brevard NC

 


Monday night approximately two dozen Brevard Academy parents attended an informative question and answer session regarding the possible relocation of the school to the old Woods Chevrolet property on the Hendersonville Highway. The meeting was held in Searcy Hall on the Brevard Music Center campus, which has been home to Brevard Academy ever since the school opened in 1998. Warren Alston, chairman of the Brevard Academy: A Challenge Foundation Academy Board of Directors, said the board met with a group of parents in the fall of 2012 about finding a new location that would allow the school to grow.

Alston said the board looked at several properties in the Brevard area and was looking at the Woods Chevrolet location last winter. However, when former school director Tony Helton announced his resignation, the board shifted its focus to finding a new school director.

In the interim, Frank Prince, another board member, talked with Josh Leder, the new owner of the former Glen Cannon Country Club, about the possibility of moving the school there. Alston said the board was only interested in the clubhouse area of the property and could not reach an agreement with Leder.

Alston said the old Woods Chevrolet property is an “ideal location” in that it would allow the school to attract new students from the Etowah, Horse Shoe and Mills River areas. Alston said the school would probably have a bus route to the Etowah-Horse Shoe area, one to Brevard, one to the upper end of the county, and possibly one into Mills River. The bus routes would not provide door-to-door service, but probably make one or two stops in each community.

He said the school currently has about 250 students and needs about 325 students to make a new location successful. Drawing students from those areas would help achieve that goal.

Alston said once the board has a signed contract on the property, it would begin its due diligence. He encouraged parents to sign up for committees, so that when the contract is signed “we can hit the ground running.”

Alston said the Challenge Foundation has the money to assist with the initial purchase of the property, and that the board would secure its own funding as soon as possible.

He said Brevard Academy has about $600,000 in unencumbered funds at present.

When asked if the school lunch prices would change, Alston said they probably would not and the current arrangements would probably continue. He said having a “stand alone cafeteria” at a new facility would probably be a “failing proposition” financially.

With the board’s plan to increase enrollment, one parent asked if that meant the teacher-to-student ratio would change.

Board member Nick Iosue said the board would keep class sizes small.

“We don’t want to have large classes,” said Alston.

But one parent said that in some of the lower grades there already are 25 or 26 students in a class instead of the 15 students in a class the school had just a few years ago.

“None of us want big classrooms,” said board member Zia McConnell, reasserting that the board is committed to small class sizes.

When asked if Brevard Academy would remain a K-8 school at its new location or expand to become a K-12 school, Alston said, “I’d love to have a K-12 school.”

But Alston said high schools require different things than K-8 schools and they present substantial challenges.

He said the board would more likely add a preschool program at the new location before looking into expanding into a high school.

McConnell said the county already has two high schools in what is a relatively small community.

As for the time frame of moving into the potential new location, Alston said, “We’re really trying hard for next year.”

When asked about the cost of renovating the existing structure, Alston said architects will have to examine the buildings to see if they meet the school’s needs and what work will have to be done.

He said the school would have to pay to extend the city of Brevard’s water and sewer lines about half a mile to the location.

Alston said by owning the building, Brevard Academy would have more scheduling flexibility and offer more programs than it does now.

At present, the teachers and staff have to pack up and be out of their rooms at the beginning of June and cannot move back in until after the Brevard Music Center’s summer season has ended. At the new location, teachers would have access to their rooms year-round, a preschool could be operated year-round and other activities, such as a summer reading program could be run.

When asked about traffic concerns on Highway 64, Alston said the school would have to work with the Department of Transportation.

“We’ll have them tell us what we have to do to make all that work,” he said.

One parent questioned whether or not the arts and music curriculum would be de-emphasized if the school left the Brevard Music Center campus. Board members and school director Barbara Grimm said arts and music are part of the school’s curriculum and that would not change.

Alston said he realizes that some parents may not want the school to leave the Brevard Music Center campus because the classrooms are small and the campus is a “beautiful place.”

But after school shootings, such as the one in Newtown. Conn., he said, “ We have to think about security.”

He said he hopes the new location will be secure, as well as beautiful.

 
 

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