Parents protest planned Vance Elementary playground changes

Parents of students at Vance Elementary School in West Asheville have turned out in force at two recent meetings to share concerns about city plans to upgrade an existing softball field on school grounds. The proposed change adds a fence that would divide an open play area currently used by Vance students during recess and for after-school activities. Parents said the new fence would restrict how teachers can use the space during the school day and reduce its availability for after-school programs during sports practices and games.

Community members first learned of the plan specifics at the beginning of February, and Asheville Parks and Recreation and Asheville City Schools staff have had some explaining to do ever since.

At a meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education on Feb. 18, Parks and Recreation Department Director Roderick Simmons stressed that the changes were necessary to comply with Title IX standards for the Asheville High School girls softball team, which uses the field now for its team, which averages 15-17 players.