The Lincoln County Board of Education held a special called meeting on Monday to gather input from administrators and staff within the Lincoln County Schools system on the future of Asbury Alternative School.
And while no concrete decisions regarding Asbury were made during the meeting, the opinion of the administrators and staff who spoke was unanimous — keep Asbury a separate institution, rather than integrating it into another county high school.
The Board was reportedly considering relocating Asbury to an existing school — specifically, Lincolnton High School. That notion drew derision from Lincolnton principal Heath Belcher, and several members of his staff, who cited the security and flexibility limitations that traditional Lincolnton students would be subjected to, should Asbury be relocated onto the city school’s campus.
Members of the Board were quick to say that the school system was looking at all options for the future of Asbury, not just relocation to an existing school.
A motion by Board member Ed Hatley, seconded by Clayton Mullis, to remove Lincolnton from consideration for the relocation was voted down by “nays” from Cathy Davis, Tony Jenkins, Mark Mullen and Bob Silver.
The Lincolnton staff, alongside representatives of West Lincoln High School, East Lincoln and West Lincoln middle schools and Asbury, all named what they saw as the advantages of keeping Lincoln County’s alternative school as a standalone entity — smaller classroom settings, less distractions and less embarrassment for alternative school students.
Asbury principal Ted Shiver also said he supports keeping the school separate, but that the facilities desperately need updating. A bond referendum, which passed in 2008, set aside $2.3 million for renovations and improvements for Asbury. The Board of Education was presented blueprints and figures for a thorough renovation of Asbury at a meeting in October 2012 by former Executive Director of Facilities Darrell Gettys. The Board subsequently voted to move forward with those plans, but no improvements have yet been made at Asbury’s facility.
The Board said it planned to discuss Asbury in further detail at its Nov. 5 Building and Site Committee meeting, and also planned to hold a public hearing on the matter in the near future.