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Avery Board of Education and Commissioners Hold Joint Meeting to Discuss School System Funding

By Tim Gardner

The Avery County Boards of Education and Commissioners held a joint public meeting on February 21 at the Board of Education Central Office, (775 Cranberry Street) in Newland.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss updates of the federal and local budgets, Avery County High School construction and walk throughs at each public school in the county by both governing bodies.

All members of the Board of Education–Chairman John Greene, Vice-Chairwoman Kathy Aldridge, Pat Edwards and Randy Singleton– attended the meeting.  There are currently only four school board members as a seat vacancy exists and has not been filled.

Also, every member of the Board of Commissioners–Chairwoman Martha Hicks, Vice-Chairman Tim Phillips, Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr., Dennis Aldridge and Robert Burleson– attended.

Avery Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman and Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier attended as well.

The primary issues concerning the budgets addressed include a need for new bleachers for the Avery High gymnasium at an estimate cost of approximately $400,000 and a new roof at Riverside Elementary School at an estimated cost yet to be determined, according to Dr. Brigman.

Hicks assured the school board members that the commissioners will continue to provide funding for all needed school repairs as county funds allow.

Dr. Brigman said that the gymnasium bleachers have not been replaced since the school opened 55 years ago (1968) and the new roof is needed at Riverside School, which opened 36 years ago (1987).

The walk throughs were held to help determine facility needs at the schools.

Dr. Brigman added that there are other repairs needed at various schools, including a new roof for Cranberry Middle and Freedom Trail Elementary.

He also noted that the construction and renovation project at Avery High completed in 2022 by Branch Builds of Virginia has been paid for.

Dr. Brigman commented about the joint meeting:  “Our joint work session went well and a lot of needs, ideas and opportunities were discussed.  I am grateful for the open communications, positive relations and support that exists between both elected boards.” 

Barrier, Jr. echoed Brigman’s statement with the following quote: “The school board and board of commissioners have a servant’s attitude when making sure we the people provide the best public educational experience for every child in the system.”