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Asheville City School Board will be on the ballot for the first time

AshevilleCitySchoolBallot_.jpg
Helen Chickering
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This will be the first year that the Asheville City Schools board will be on the ballot.

For the first time, voters in Asheville will school board candidates on their ballots. The district is one of the last in the state to make the shift from appointed to elected board members.  

Prior to 1923, county school boards were appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly, according to a report posted on the North Carolina Board of Elections website.

However, local bills set up numerous special school districts throughout the state. That means most municipalities sought and were given the right to have their own school districts. In 1923, a bill passed created a hybrid method of school board elections. By the 1950’s most school districts had switched from appointment to elections.  

House Bill 400, ratified in the fall of 2021, triggered the Asheville City School Board switch from appointed to elected. The Thomasville City School district in Davidson County is now the only one in the state that still appoints its members.  

Leanne Winner is the executive director of the North Carolina School Board Association. Winner says each board has their own local legislation that determines how members are chosen – and much more.  

“How many members are on the board, the timing of the election, and whether they are elected or appointed and whether they're partisan,” said Winner, who is an Asheville native. Winner’s mother served on the Asheville School Board in the late 1970s.  

Asheville’s bill bumps the school board up from five to seven non-partisan members. Four spots are open during this election cycle and the remaining three will be elected in 2024. Meantime, the Thomasville district may not be the lone holdout for long, a school board election resolution is making its way to the General Assembly.  

BPR spoke with Thomasville City manager Michael Brandt who says they are working to get local legislation into next week’s short session. If it is passed the first school board election would take place in 20-23  

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.