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COMMISSION CHAIR ISSUES STATEMENT ON HHS VOTE

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Michael Edney, the chairman of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, issued a statement Friday night that sought to assure the Edneyville community that commissioners plan to move ahead on an Edneyville Elementary School project immediately after the Hendersonville High School construction.

The unusual move by the board chair highlighted the stakes in Monday night's School Board meeting, when that board is expected to vote up or down on a $53 million Hendersonville High School project. A no vote, commissioners said Monday night, means that the county will shelve the HHS project for at least two years and possibly more than that. Commissioners did not commit on Monday to moving ahead with the Edneyville project if the School Board votes no on an all-new HHS project.

Edney addressed two of the biggest concerns of HHS alumni and others who favor a renovation plan over new construction: use the historic Stillwell building and parking.

The county's plan "includes the preservation and use of the historic Stillwell Building by the school system as the elected School Board sees fit," Edney said, "We have encouraged and committed to appropriate financial resources for the integration of Stillwell’s classrooms and auditorium with HHS to maintain the link between past, present and future. Onsite parking will be increased and staff is exploring ways to add yet additional parking opportunities both on and offsite."

Here is Edney's complete statement:

The Henderson County Board of Public Education will meet Monday evening. We anticipate that a part of their meeting will focus on the future of Hendersonville High School. Both the School Board and Board of Commissioners, as well as their staffs have worked together diligently over the past couple of years to be at the point where we are preparing to move forward to seek City of Hendersonville zoning approval and road closure.

During this process, much information and unfortunately, misinformation has been circulated in the community. It is of utmost importance that both the Board of Public Education membership and the community at large have accurate and truthful information. To that end, I wish to reiterate the following:

The current plan to build a new, state of the art Hendersonville High School, endorsed by each County Commissioner, five duly elected representatives from five unique backgrounds and perspectives, includes the preservation and use of the historic Stillwell Building by the school system as the elected School Board sees fit. We have encouraged and committed to appropriate financial resources for the integration of Stillwell’s classrooms and auditorium with HHS to maintain the link between past, present and future. Onsite parking will be increased and staff is exploring ways to add yet additional parking opportunities both on and offsite.

There are those in the community who have attempted to derail the Hendersonville High School project by inappropriately linking it with the Edneyville Elementary School project. The only relationship these two separate projects have are that they are both of the highest priority for both the School Board and the Board of Commissioners.

While we continue to address final details related to the high school, Commissioners absolutely have Edneyville Elementary in our sights. Last month we officially directed our architects to begin work on Edneyville as soon as their resources are available to do so. School and County staff are working as we speak, behind the scenes, collecting the necessary information for the architects and other professionals to hit the ground running.

Should the School Board and subsequently the City, sign off on the high school project, we expect to break ground in about a year with students occupying the facility in August of 2020. Given this schedule, it is my desire that the actual design of the new Edneyville Elementary School begin once HHS construction is underway and that the elementary school can be ready to receive students as early as August of 2021. Given the substantial strength of the County’s finances under the management of staff and the leadership of the Board of Commissioners, this scenario is doable.

With this said, let me be clear, the past few years have seen great accomplishments in Henderson County, primarily because we have united together as a community with a common purpose – to make our county the best it can be – and these future plans are dependent upon the same. We can, and must, work together with a common purpose. In this instance to provide our young people with the best possible educational opportunities available. The plan we have outlined does just this and I believe deserves your support. Thank you, and may you and your loved ones have a blessed holiday season.”