Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

School Board chair won't run for reelection

Blair Craven, who helped lead the charge to reverse a plan to abandon the historic Hendersonville High School building in favor of a new-construction replacement, announced Monday that he would not seek re-election to the Henderson County School Board next year.

“When I started this in 2015, my reason to run was really simple,” he said. “I didn’t think Hendersonville High School was getting the attention that it deserved and Edneyville was getting left by the wayside. My total focus was to have Hendersonville High School built into what you see now. That was why I ran for School Board.”

The often-hostile battle over the future of HHS spanned more than five years and ended ultimately with the decision by the School Board and Board of Commissioners to renovate the Stillwell-designed core classroom building and auditorium and construct a new annex and gym.

“We spent countless, countless hours working on it,” Craven said. “It was myself, Lisa Edwards and Amy Lynn Holt leading the charge to try to take back control of what we were elected to do. We know what our students need and what our teachers need and the county commissioners’ job is to decide to fund or not fund” capital construction.

He credited county commissioner Bill Lapsley and former commissioner Grady Hawkins and then-County Manager Steve Wyatt for working with the School Board to salvage the construction plan when it looked like the county commission had three votes to scrap the project altogether.

A meeting that Craven called “the summit of Henderson County” — involving himself, Lapsley and City Council member Jeff Miller — marked a turning point.

“We went down to Southern Appalachian Brewery when this whole thing was falling apart,” he recalled. “We sat around, had a beer or two and discussed what needed to get done. That meeting really helped the project survive. I give credit to those two heavyweights in this community to make sure Hendersonville High School got done right.”


Unprecedented challenges

If the HHS battle ended in triumph, the next big challenge — the global pandemic — was a war of unprecedented proportion.

“I love the work — working with numbers, building capital projects, helping with instructional services,” Craven said. “But it’s been challenge these last couple of years. One thing I was naïve about when I started this was I knew I was gonna take a lot of flak for various decisions I made. What I didn’t expect is how much some of those decisions would affect my family. I became chair in December 2019 and we shut down schools in March of 2020. There was a lot of negative (reaction) to my family, to my kids, to my wife — social media, emails —  that made it difficult.”

Craven also led the board as it enhanced facilities and added personnel to protect students.

“I think we’ve made tremendous safety strides,” he said. “We hired a director of security. We now have SROs in every single school, we have nurses in every school and we have I think tripled the amount of social workers. Just the safety enhancements alone, I’m truly proud of what our board has accomplished over the years.”

Craven closes his School Board chapter to give way to fresh leadership.

“I am a big believer in term limits in every form of government, from the top all the way down to the bottom,” he said.

A former Republican who switched to unaffiliated, Craven said “lots of people” have offered to solicit the signatures he would need to run as an independent in the November election, which the Legislature made partisan. But for now he wants to step back, spend time with his wife, Andie, a social services professor at BRCC who is pursuing a doctorate, and their children — ages 9, 11 and 16.

“Is there a possibility for me running for another office in the future? Absolutely,” he said. “But not without sitting down with family and discussing what that could potentially look like.”