Category Archives: School Board News

Meet the New Board Members

by Cindy McMahon, Reynolds District Representative, Buncombe County School Board

Happy New Year! For 2017, we welcome two new members to the Buncombe County Board of Education: Donna Pate and Margaret Buchanan were sworn in at our December meeting. It’s my honor to introduce them to you.

Margaret Buchanan, who goes by Peggy, is the new Owen representative on the school board. She was born in upstate New York and spent her early years there. Her family moved to NC when she was a teenager and she graduated from Asheville High, going on to AB Tech several years later to earn an Associate Degree in nursing. She worked as a nurse until she retired.

Peggy and her husband, Jack, live in Black Mountain with their border collie and “a very opinionated cat.” They have four grown children and five grandchildren; all of their children and grandchildren have attended Buncombe County schools. Jack is a retired principal, having spent over 30 years at the Juvenile Evaluation Center in Swannanoa.

“I believe that the teachers and administration in Buncombe County are exceptional,” Peggy says. “With little state support they continue to achieve outstanding results due to their creativity and dedication.” She is eager to learn more about the school system by keeping in touch with the schools in the Owen District. “Guided by knowing their hopes and dreams for providing a better education for all students,” she says, “I will be able to support them through my board participation.”

Donna Pate, our new At-Large Member, grew up in Black Mountain and graduated from Owen High School. She lives in Candler. Now retired, in her career she has taught high school English, worked as a school counselor, and finally as a school-based mental health therapist. Most recently she filled in as an interim guidance counselor at Reynolds High while one of our counselors was on maternity leave.

Like Peggy, Donna believes in Buncombe County schools and has concerns about the challenges they face: “I believe in the mission of our public schools and have so many concerns about how we are being attacked from all sides.  Public school personnel and students are being asked to perform at higher and higher levels with abysmal support from our state legislators in terms of instructional supplies, mental health services and pay, among others.”

Learning has been a top priority for Donna in her new role as well, and she has already read the School Improvement Plans for all 43 schools in our system and plans to visit every school on a monthly basis. She says, “Despite many challenges and obstacles, our school system continues to move forward with optimism and commitment toward providing a first-class, world-class education to our children.  This affords me a great sense of pride in being a part of such a stellar school system.”

Both of these new members are active in their churches and communities, and have a special commitment to students living in poverty or facing mental health issues. We are lucky to have them both!

Also at the December meeting, Amy Churchill was sworn in for her second term as representative for the TC Roberson district, and Ann Franklin was sworn in for her third term as the North Buncombe representative. Ann was also re-elected as Chair of the Board, and we elected Pat Bryant as Vice-Chair.

Congratulations to all of these fine public servants. If you’d like to reach them personally, you can find the school board info and their contact information in the “About” section of the Buncombe County Schools website:

Questions or comments? Please email