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Asheville City Schools Tap New Superintendent

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Matt Bush
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Blue Ridge Public Radio
Dr. Gene Freeman (center left) shakes hands with Buncombe County commissioner Al Whitesides as Buncombe County Board Chair Brownie Newman (center right) and Buncombe County sheriff Quentin Miller (far left) look on

Dr. Gene Freeman will be the next superintendent for Asheville City Schools.  The city board of education selected Freeman Wednesday evening.  He currently serves as superintendent of the Fox Chapel School District in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, a similarly sized district to Asheville. 

After his appointment, Freeman told those gathered in the board boardroom that he was on the verge of retiring, but decided instead to come to Asheville.  Freeman is a native of Robeson County, North Carolina, where he started his career in education as teacher in Lumberton.  His main focus in Asheville will be reversing the city’s student achievement gap between white and black students.  It’s not only one of the worst in North Carolina, but in all of the U.S.  Freeman says it’s an issue he’s faced at other jobs, though he wasn’t ready to offer specifics to BPR on how he’ll approach it in Asheville.  "After meeting with the staff and seeing what is in place, then we'll have a more definitive plan," Robeson said after Wednesday's meeting.  "It wouldn't be fair for me to say 'this is what we're going to do right away.'  I need to just assess what is being done already.  But we know there needs to be some change."

Freeman takes over officially as superintendent on July 1st, 2020.  He'll be the third superintendent of Asheville City Schools since 2014.  That's the year Dr. Pamela Baldwin was hired.  She left in 2017 to become the superintendent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools.  She was replaced by Dr. Denise Patterson later that year.  Patterson resigned in June of 2019 citing health reasons. 

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.