A looming fight over new homes for Isaac Dickson Elementary and Asheville Middle School is pitting budget-conscious Republicans on the new Buncombe County Board of Commissioners against a razor-thin Democratic majority. Some freshman GOP commissioners say the high-tech designs are a luxury the county can’t afford; Democrats counter that these facilities are urgently needed, and some argue that making them energy-efficient would cut operating costs for decades.
The proposed structures would be the first new city schools since 1986. In the last three decades, the county system has built 15 school buildings.
A 1983 state law that earmarks a percentage of local sales taxes for school construction but sends most of the money to the county was instrumental in financing those schools. In contrast, the proposed city projects would need an additional funding source, and even proponents say they don’t know where the estimated $61 million or more would come from.