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A Win for Early Childhood Education
A Win for Early Childhood Education
Posted on 06/26/2019
A collage showing Erwin High School students caring for preschoolers.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

We’re expanding access to early childhood education, because it matters.

Buncombe County Schools – thanks to generous funding from the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and partnerships with local nonprofits – will host a Verner Center for Early Learning facility on the campus of Emma Elementary School and create an Early Childhood Education program in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department at North Buncombe High School.

These programs will deliver the highest quality child development programs to dozens of families in the county. 

“We are meeting an important need in our community,” said BCS Associate Superintendent Susanne Swanger. “Research shows that the earliest years of a child’s life are crucial to educational and life success. We believe that these opportunities will prepare our students for a brighter future.”

Verner plans to build eight classrooms on Emma’s campus to serve children from birth to age 5, along with their families. The nonprofit values play, low child-to-staff ratios, and collaborative relationships among families, communities, and schools. Verner staff support families in accessing health and community services, and the nonprofit also offers educational support and mentoring programs to teachers who care for young children.

“The end result is increasing kindergarten readiness  for students throughout our county," said Jennifer Reed, BCS  director of Elementary and Intermediate Education.North Buncombe will create an early childhood development education program for students, along with a five-star preschool on campus, similar to facilities at Clyde A. Erwin High School, A.C. Reynolds High School, and T.C. Roberson High School.

High school CTE students spend half their time in class learning about developmentally appropriate practices, educational theories, classroom management skills, how to communicate with parents, and how to meet licensure requirements. They spend the other half in the preschool, learning by experience.

“These preschools are staffed by caring adults and students with a passion for young children and the way that they learn and grow,” said Jennifer Reed, BCS director of Elementary and Intermediate Education. “This will Increase educational opportunities for students interested in careers in early childhood education. The end result is increasing kindergarten readiness for students throughout our county.”

After months of planning, applications, and deliberation, Buncombe County's Early Childhood Education and Development Committee finalized allocated funding for $3.6 million dollars to schools and local organizations to make positive, lifelong impacts on our children. In October 2018, the Board of Commissioners voted to establish the fund and a committee for funding recommendations

The county provided $500,000 for the Emma Elementary program and $400,000 for North Buncombe High. The overall goal is to ensure that every child in Buncombe County has an equal opportunity to thrive during their first 2,000 days. That includes access to quality early childhood education. The committee is doing this by engaging with community partners, soliciting public input, making public policy, and recommendations in conjunction with funding grants to local organizations to improve this local problem.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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