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Townsend Stepping Down as ACS Superintendent, Returning To Role as Human Resources Director


By Jesse Wood

Avery County Schools Supt. Ken Townsend is stepping down from his role as head of the school system and returning to his previous position of six years, director of human resources. In June, he succeeded a retiring David Burleson. 

“You never really fully understand the position until you have the opportunity to do it and work closely at it,” Townsend said on Wednesday. “This is a stressful position and with that some people do a better job handling the stress than others. I wasn’t doing a really good job handling the stress part of that and am stepping down.”

Townsend alerted the school community of his decision in an email on Tuesday. The Avery County Board of Education previously honored his request to return to his former position as director of human resources.

The school board’s priority is to now find an interim superintendent until they can undergo a search for a permanent replacement. See Townsend’s email/letter to the Avery County Schools community below:

Good afternoon. I hope your week is off to a great start. I wanted to let you know that after lots of prayer and soul searching, I have decided to step down as the Superintendent.  

The Board of Education has honored my request to go back into the position of Human Resource Director. I am grateful to our Board for the opportunity to serve as Superintendent and for allowing me to go back to the Human Resource position so I can continue to serve the students and staff in a capacity that I have enjoyed for the previous 6 years.  

The Superintendent position has brought some challenges that I did not fully understand until I had the opportunity to do the job. I love this school system and only want the very best for the teachers, staff, children, and families of Avery County. I feel that I would have a much greater impact in my previous role. Our Board will work to have an interim Superintendent to serve until they can do a search for a permanent replacement.