December 18, 2019
Dr. Gene Freeman has been selected as the new superintendent of Asheville City Schools.
A veteran superintendent with more than 25 years of educational experience, Dr. Freeman is currently the superintendent of Fox Chapel Area School District, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fox Chapel serves more than 4,000 students with a staff of nearly 700 and a budget of $103 million. Dr. Freeman is a 2000 Fulbright Scholar, a 2001 Milken Educator Award Recipient and is a published education scholar.
“My wife and I have decided that we would like to return to North Carolina. Though I am retiring from Pennsylvania Public Schools, I feel that I have more to contribute and more to learn,” said Dr. Freeman. “I am motivated, eager and ready to work with the Asheville City Schools team to make a great school district even better.”
Pittsburgh Magazine recently named the Fox Chapel Area School District as the top-ranked suburban district in the region. In 2018, his district ranked fourth among Western Pennsylvania Public School Districts and eighth in the state for student achievement. In fact, his 3rd Graders ranked first in academic performance across the entire state. These numbers reflect significant growth in academic achievement for all students over a three-year period.
“It became clear to us that Dr. Freeman has employed data-driven instruction to achieve consistent and sustained academic growth in his most recent district,” said Shaunda Sandford, Chair of the Asheville City Board of Education. “Dr. Freeman has served in districts with diverse student populations and led equity assessments to promote excellence. His track record demonstrates that he values the success of all students. ”
Dr. Freeman began his career in the Public Schools of Robeson County in Lumberton, North Carolina more than 25 years ago, first as a teacher, then as the Initially Licensed Teacher Coordinator, before being promoted as the Executive Director for Curriculum and Support Programs.
In August 2006, Dr. Freeman was selected as superintendent of the Weatherly Area School District in Pennsylvania. There he served 800 students, of which more than 40% experienced less access.
Two years later, Dr. Freeman began his tenure as superintendent of Manheim Township School District in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a position he held for nearly six years. The district is home to about 6,000 students and 800 staff members. Under his leadership, Manheim Township developed an International Baccalaureate high school, moved the district from a multi-million deficit in 2009 to a multi-million surplus by 2013 and was responsible for the design/completion of $120 million in construction projects. The innovative and comprehensive data management system he implemented pushed both reading and math scores in his district from below 50th to the top 20 in Pennsylvania. Dr. Freeman also achieved the highest graduation rate in Manheim Township history.
Dr. Freeman is now in his sixth year as superintendent of the Fox Chapel Area School District. There, he has increased student academic growth year after year based on state and national standards. About a quarter of the district is made up of students who experience less access. He also developed and implemented several Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) Academies, created a Spanish immersion program and started a Pre-K program at one of his elementary schools. Additionally, he has enhanced professional development for teachers and staff alike using a unique, benchmarking strategy.
Dr. Freeman earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Master of Arts in Education degree from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and his Doctorate in Education from Fayetteville State University. He received his National Board Certification for Teaching in 2001 and performed post-graduate studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in both 2007 and 2015. Additionally, he attended the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Education Policy Fellowship Program. Dr. Freeman also received the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence in 2014.
Dr. Freeman is the co-author of Integrating Science and Literacy Instruction: A Framework for Bridging the Gap. Published in March 2006, the book was written with the goal of developing student reading, writing and oral communication achievement in relation to scientific investigation.
Following the resignation of Dr. Denise Patterson on June 12th, the Asheville City Board of Education began the public engagement phase of their search, which stretched across three months. That engagement included 11 community forums and four surveys. In all, we heard from 2,042 stakeholders. Meanwhile, the board’s attorney, Campbell Shatley PLLC, handled the application, vetting process and interview logistics for the Board. In total, 28 candidates applied. The Board interviewed a handful of semifinalists, and from that process, selected three finalists. The final interviews included a presentation from each candidate and scenario questions, some of which were based on the input received from stakeholders during the 11 community forums.
Dr. Freeman traveled to Asheville on Wednesday, December 18 and is looking forward to introducing himself to Asheville City Schools students, staff and families. This process began at 5:00 PM today following the Board’s unanimous formal vote and introduction.
Dr. Freeman will begin his duties on July 1, 2020, or possibly sooner. Dr. Bobbie Short will continue to serve as Interim Superintendent throughout the transition. During the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, Dr. Short and Dr. Freeman will work together to promote a smooth transition.
December 12, 2019
Good Afternoon Cougar Families! This is Shaunda Sandford, Chair of the Asheville City Board of Education, with an exciting announcement about our district.
I’m happy to announce that the Board has unanimously selected our next superintendent.
We will be introducing the new superintendent next Wednesday, December 18th at 5:00 PM in the Board Room located at 85 Mountain Street. It will be open to the public. Following the introduction, our next leader is looking forward to sharing their thoughts about joining the Cougar Family.
When the formal portion of the welcome is complete, there will be time for members of the audience to greet the new superintendent.
The new superintendent’s projected start date is July 1st, 2020.
I’m happy to announce Dr. Bobbie Short will continue to serve as Interim Superintendent throughout the transition.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you for offering your feedback and suggestions throughout our 2019 Superintendent Search. You were instrumental in creating the profile for our new leader.
As always, hearing from you is a vital part of our district’s success.
Like you, we all look forward to next Wednesday’s special event. Have a wonderful night and Cougar Pride!
November 18, 2019
Good Afternoon Cougar Family,
On behalf of the Asheville City Board of Education, we would like to update you on our district’s Superintendent Search.
As you may know, the search began mid-summer, and we completed the community engagement phase comprised of three surveys and 11 community forums in late September. Meanwhile, our Board Attorney and his office managed the application process, receiving 28 packets by our September 16th deadline.
The Board held its first round of interviews in October. From those interviews, we selected several finalists.
Within the last two weeks, the law firm has been vetting the finalists. Meanwhile, the Board of Education has developed a second round of questions, some of which are based on the input we received from stakeholders during the 11 community forums.
The second round of interviews will be conducted within the next several weeks. The Board will move forward from there.
Although the Board’s best-case scenario involved hiring a new superintendent who would start around January 1, we've made it clear that finding the best, long-term fit to lead Asheville City Schools is our top priority. Therefore, the new superintendent’s start date could be anywhere between January 2020 and the end of the school year.
We wanted to say thank you once again to the more than 2,000 stakeholders who participated in our surveys and forums to help shape the profile for our next leader.
All the information regarding our 2019 Superintendent Search can be found here.
Shaunda Sandford, Chair of the Asheville City Board of Education
October 13, 2019
The search for a new superintendent is going smoothly and is now in the interview stage. Our Board would like to say thank you to the nearly 3,000 stakeholders who helped shape the desired profile for our new leader through participation in 11 forums and three surveys. Your input was invaluable!
September 24, 2019
Asheville City Schools also crafted a separate student surveys with age-appropriate questions to ensure our most important stakeholders, and reasons why we are all ultimately here, were able to share their opinions on what they most desire in our next long-term leader. It yielded responses from 590 secondary students. An analysis of the Superintendent Search Student Survey can be found here. A separate video was also created highlighting results from ACS elemetnary students. Both were shared with the Asheville City Board of Education on September 23rd.
September 23, 2019
Good Afternoon and Happy Monday Asheville City Schools! This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, your Executive Director of Communications.
I would like to personally invite you to tomorrow’s final Superintendent Search Community Forum. So far, our first ten forums have yielded insightful feedback from more than 150 stakeholders, and, on behalf of the Asheville City Board of Education, I know they would love to hear from even more!
The September 24th Forum is being held in conjunction with the first Homework Diner of the 2019-2020 School Year.
Homework Diners happen every Tuesday from 5:00 - 7:00 PM in Asheville Middle’s cafeteria and are a great chance to build community with other Asheville families. They’re always open to all families with Pre-K through 12th Grade students attending any Asheville City School.
About tomorrow…a free meal will be served from 5:00 - 6:00 PM in AMS's Cafeteria. And, while our students are receiving free homework help from qualified tutors, our final Superintendent Search Community Forum will take place in the school media center from 6:00 - 7:00 PM.
We’re utilizing an online platform that instantaneously displays and captures your feedback throughout the forum. We’ll have a few Chromebooks handy, but, if possible, please come with your cell phones charged.
Again…tomorrow is your last opportunity to ensure the Board hears your input. Dinner will be from 5:00 - 6:00 PM, and the forum is happening from 6:00 - 7:00 PM all at Asheville Middle School.
Thanks for listening. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you on tomorrow. Have a great rest of your Monday, and Cougar Pride!
September 10, 2019
Asheville City Schools crafted a separate Superintendent Search Staff Survey. It was open from June 27th - September 1, 2019 and yielded 236 responses. Its results were presented to the Asheville City Board of Education during their September 11th Work Session and Regular Meeting. A detailed analysis of these results can be found here.
Results from the first 10 Superintendent Search Community Forums were presented to the Asheville City Board of Education during their September 9th Work Session and Regular Meeting. An analysis of these preliminary district findings can be found here.
August 21, 2019
On behalf of the Asheville City Board of Education, a summary of the Superintendent Search process is outlined below:
Campbell Shatley, PLLC Consultants, the acting board attorneys for Asheville City Schools, is facilitating the search process and providing additional support to the Board as it conducts a rigorous, nationwide search for the new superintendent. The law firm will provide information to the Asheville City Board of Education about each candidate once the Superintendent Search Application closes on September 16th. Campbell Shatley, PLLC will also provide the Board with detailed background checks on each finalist prior to the superintendent interviews - including but not limited to criminal history, prior employment verification, education verification, reference checks, professional license and certificate confirmation, as well as social media and internet screenings.
Although the Asheville City Board of Education is not contracting with the North Carolina School Board Association for its 2019 Superintendent Search, NCSBA has shared the Board’s advertisement with all its state and national contacts as well as ensuring that the district’s application inquiry is listed in trade publications. Other professional education organizations in the state are also assisting in advertising the position.
As part of its search, the Asheville City Board of Education is also calling on district staff, students, and community members to share the skills, qualifications and characteristics they most desire in our next longterm leader. A Superintendent Search Community Survey was open from June 24th - July 28th. It yielded 1,020 survey takers, the majority of whom are current ACS parents. The results were shared during the August 5th Board of Education Meeting, and a community survey analysis can currently be found on the district’s 2019 Superintendent Search webpage. Asheville City Schools staff members have until September 1st to complete their survey; those results will be shared during the September 9th ACS Board of Education Meeting.
Because the Asheville City Board of Education wants to continue to engage with its community throughout their search, they are holding 10 community forums throughout the months of August and September. A list of the forums is available on the 2019 Superintendent Search webpage.
The Asheville City Board of Education understands a candidate’s current position may not allow them to leave mid-school year. Therefore, if necessary, the Board is fully prepared to appoint an Interim Superintendent. As posted to the Superintendent of Schools Advertisement, “the successful candidate should be prepared to take office no later than July 1, 2020.”
Board Attorney Chris Campbell has stated, “now is the best time to advertise and attract the best candidates for the position. Highly-qualified, successful superintendent candidates typically decide to accept a job offer just after the new calendar year.”
Utilizing gathered community, staff, and student input, the Asheville City Board of Education will conduct interviews and pick the candidate best suited to serve our district.
August 15, 2019
Good Afternoon Asheville City Schools Families,
On behalf of the Board of Education, we would like to update you about our Superintendent Search.
Several of you have suggested that we try a time a different time or format for our Superintendent Search Community Forums. Therefore, we have added four additional forums to our upcoming calendars.
On Wednesday, August 28th, we will hold three Facebook Live forums at 9:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM. To “attend” simply click on Asheville City Schools’ Facebook page during one of the Facebook Live forum times. The format will be very similar to what we are using for our neighborhood forums.
After a brief snapshot of Asheville City Schools, we will use a fun and interactive online process to capture your ideas regarding our next longterm leader.
Like all our Superintendent Search Community Forums, the information we gather from the Facebook Live forums will be shared with the Asheville City Board of Education that very same day.
Please know that an additional forum has been added on Wednesday, September 4th. It will be held at Vance Elementary School and will be facilitated completely in Spanish. Doors will open at 5:15 PM, and our discussion will start promptly at 5:30 PM.
As a reminder, additional Superintendent Search Community Forums include:
- Thursday, August 22nd at the Arthur Edington Center
- Monday, August 26th at Hall Fletcher Elementary School
- Thursday, August 29th at the North Asheville Library
For those of you who have already attended one of our forums, thank you. If you are planning to attend one of our future input sessions, please know we are looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Ashley-Michelle Thublin and Charlie Glazener
August 6, 2019
The 2019 Superintendent Search Community Survey was open June 24th - July 28th, 2019. An analysis of its results, which can be found here, was presented to the Asheville City Board of Education on Monday, August 5th, 2019.
August 5, 2019
Hello Cougar Family! This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, your Executive Director of Communications.
And, this is Charlie Glazener, your former PIO.
We’re really pleased with how last Thursday’s Superintendent Search Community Forum turned out. Thank you to all who attended! You provided us with excellent feedback about the qualifications you’re most looking for in the district’s next leader and left us with several potential questions the board can pull from when interviewing candidates.
And by the way, we’re utilizing an online platform that instantaneously displays and captures your feedback throughout the forum. We’ll have a few Chromebooks handy, but, if possible, please come with your cell phones charged.
Yes! Our Community Forums are certainly something special, which is why we’d like to invite you to share your thoughts during our second Superintendent Search Community Forum. It’s happening this Wednesday, August 7th at Ira B. Jones Elementary Schools. Doors will open at 5:15 PM, and our facilitators will begin promptly at 5:30 PM. Please come if you can or check our web site for a list of several other forums scheduled throughout August.
Thanks for listening. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you on Wednesday at Jones. Have a great rest of your Monday, and Cougar Pride!
July 30, 2019
Hello Cougar Family! This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, your Executive Director of Communications.
And, this is Charlie Glazener, your former PIO. Interim superintendent Dr. Bobbie Short has invited me to return to the Central Office Team during these next few months of transition and I am delighted to be back working on a variety of special projects on behalf of you and your children.
Together we are supporting the Board during the Superintendent Search Process by inviting our families, teachers, staff and community to provide input to the Board as they work diligently to hire the best, long-term fit to lead our school district.
So, we would like to personally invite you to our first Superintendent Search Community Forum. It’s happening this Thursday, August 1st in the Asheville Middle School cafeteria. Doors will open at 5:15 PM, and our facilitators will begin promptly at 5:30 PM. Please come if you can or check our web site for a list of several other forums scheduled throughout August.
And by the way, I just ordered a copy of the 2019-20 original Old Farmers Almanac. More about that later!
Thanks for listening. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you Thursday evening. Have a great evening, and Cougar Pride!
July 25, 2019
Hello Asheville City Schools. This is your Board Chair, Shaunda Sandford, with a reminder about our Superintendent Search.
We want to continue to hear from you throughout this process.
Therefore, please consider joining us for our first Superintendent Search Community Forum. It’s happening a week from today - next Thursday, August 1st - at Asheville Middle School located at 211 South French Broad Avenue from 5:15 - 6:30 PM.
And, if you can’t make it to our August 1st Community Forum, please know that we’re having five more throughout the month of August. Dates and locations for all our Superintendent Search Community Forums can be found on the Asheville City Schools webpage and on our social media outlets.
We are looking forward to meeting with you and receiving your input as we look to hire the best, long-term fit for our students, staff members, families and community.
Have a great evening, and Cougar Pride!
July 24, 2019
Good afternoon Asheville City Schools! This is your Board Chair, Shaunda Sandford, with an update about our Superintendent Search.
We need and want to hear your perspective! Please tell us what kind of leadership you want!
If you have not already done so, go to our website and find our Community Input Survey. The survey closes this Sunday, July 28th at midnight, so act now.
If you prefer to take the survey on paper, call (828)350-6120.
We appreciate your support, and if you have already shared your input, thank you.
Have a great evening, and Cougar Pride!
July 23, 2019
You are part of our Asheville City Schools community, and we need you!
We need your perspective. We need you to share your opinions with us. Please take the Community Input Survey before midnight this Sunday: http://bit.ly/cougarsurvey
Tell us what you think about our schools. Tell us what you want our new Superintendent to know. We are listening.
We want to hear from all students, parents, families, staff, and friends of Asheville City Schools.
Find out more about our community outreach and the process for finding a new superintendent here.
This online Community Input Survey closes Sunday night: http://bit.ly/cougarsurvey
Chair, Asheville City Schools Board of Education
June 27, 2019
Good Afternoon Asheville City Schools, This is your Board Chair, Shaunda Sandford, with some news about our 2019 Superintendent Search.
Our Superintendent Search Staff Input Survey was shared with ACS employees earlier today. The Board looks forward to receiving their valuable feedback as we prepare for our upcoming Community Input Forums and, ultimately, interviews for the district’s next long-time leader.
Additionally, the ACS Board approved Dr. Bobbie Short’s Interim Superintendent Contract during today’s Work Session. She will begin on Wednesday, July 17th. The Board appreciates the leadership our Assistant Superintendents, Dr. Terrence McAllister and Dr. Mark Dickerson, have shown these past few weeks and looks forward to working with Dr. Short during this transition.
We also want to remind you about our Superintendent Search Community Input Survey. A link to the survey was emailed to our families on Monday, June 24th. So far, 356 of you have already filled one out. Thank you! The Community Input Survey is open now through Sunday, July 28th, and a link to it has been placed on the district website. Or, if you would prefer to fill out a hardcopy, please call (828) 350-6120.
Thank you for your continued support during our Superintendent Search, and Cougar Pride!
June 24, 2019
Dear ACS Community,
We have published our Community Input Survey as part of our comprehensive effort to engage the community in the search for the next Superintendent.
The survey is available online by clicking here. If you have five to seven minutes, please take the survey!
All online survey responses are due no later than Sunday, July 28th.
Anyone with questions about how to complete the survey may call (828) 350-6120 between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Mondays through Thursdays for assistance.
Our Asheville City Schools staff will have the opportunity to answer every question in the Community Survey, plus additional questions just for them. A Staff Input Survey will be distributed later this week.
For the first time, ACS is developing age-appropriate input surveys for students as part of the Superintendent search. We intend to have those ready when our students return to school in August. Just like the input collected from adults, the results of those student input surveys will be made public and also shared with candidates who apply to be our next Superintendent.
In addition to surveys, ACS will also hold community input forums. It will be a busy summer with lots of opportunities for the school family and the public to be involved. For additional information about the timeline for the Superintendent, search visit our 2019 Superintendent Search webpage.
In determining how to go about this search for our next Superintendent, we looked at what process appears to have worked recently in own community. Our district is located within the City of Asheville and within Buncombe County. With few exceptions, Asheville City Schools students and their families are residents of Asheville, residents of Buncombe County, or both. Many of our staff and their families are residents of Asheville and Buncombe County, with exceptions due to economic and cultural barriers. Therefore we looked at what’s been going on with chief-executive-level public positions right here in Asheville and Buncombe County.
The City of Asheville recently faced the need to replace its City Manager after his tenure abruptly ended. There was a lot of turmoil leading up to and surrounding that situation. Buncombe County recently faced the need to replace its County Manager, also abruptly, and there was also a lot of turmoil. The City Manager position, County Manager position, and Schools Superintendent position have a lot in common. Each is the chief executive of its organization, and our Superintendent is the chief executive of our schools. Each organization is part of local government, and our schools are part of local government.
In these two high-profile situations, the searches to replace a City Manager and a County Manager, both organizations opted for community engagement through surveys and forums. In both cases, the organizations opted for a confidential process for narrowing the candidates down to the person who was offered the job. The surveys and forums were presented as being for the purpose of engaging the public and collecting information from the public. That information was to be used to inform the decision-makers about what the public wanted in the new hire, according to the process.
Both the City Manager position and the County Manager position were filled within the timeframe suggested when the processes were announced. Based on a review of media coverage, the community seems to be pleased with the outcomes of the search processes.
We are following the same basic process used by both the City and the County to fill their chief-executive-level positions because our community appears to have responded well to this process and because we hope for the same positive outcome.
People got excited about the hiring process for a new City Manager and new County Manager. We hope to generate as much or more interest in our Superintendent search. We are especially counting on our Cougar families to participate. We need you.
The link to the online survey is here. Thank you in advance for taking the survey.
Printed copies of the survey are available beginning today. Surveys are available at all schools and at central office. Surveys can be returned to the same locations or dropped off at the central office between 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Monday through Thursday. Hard copies of surveys can be delivered to central office no later than Monday, July 29.
Shaunda Sandford, Chair of the Asheville City Board of Education
June 16, 2019
Good Morning Asheville City Schools Students, Staff, Families and Stakeholders,
As you know, the Asheville City Board of Education is undertaking a search for a new superintendent. Community engagement is vital to our process.
Therefore, Asheville City Schools is launching an extensive campaign to solicit YOUR input. We look forward to hearing from our students and their families, ACS alumni and our educators on the characteristics, experience, and skills you desire in your next superintendent. Additionally, we are seeking community input from educators in higher education, decision-makers and service providers in public, private, and nonprofit sectors, as well as employers, advocates, new residents and other interested stakeholders. Indeed, we invite everyone in our community to participate and engage in this process.
This will be done through both online and written surveys as well as during six public input forums. For more information, please review the detailed timeline that has been posted to the Asheville City Schools website.
Additionally, we've answered several of your frequently asked questions.
Our goal is to keep you as informed as possible throughout this process.
We look forward to receiving your survey input and feedback during the upcoming forums.
Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications