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RCS board renews superintendent contract

At its recent called meeting, the Russellville City Schools Board of Education approved the contract extension for Superintendent Heath Grimes through the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

Grimes has served as superintendent of RCS for the past five years.

When he first began in this role, Grimes set lofty goals for the district, many of which were outlined in his Five-Year Strategic Plan. Grimes had specific ideas that would build on the tradition of excellence already established at RCS and help the district become a strong presence in all areas of educational life, including academics, extracurriculars, athletics, professional development, capital improvements and community relations.

Out of 139 superintendents in Alabama, Grimes ranks 15th in terms of years served as superintendent. He has taken this experience and expertise and used it in positive ways, most recently to lead the district in developing the Roadmap to Reopening RCS during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the past five years, Grimes has accomplished above and beyond his initial goals. He implemented an out-of-district policy that prevented overcrowding and the expenditure of millions of dollars in capital funds. He also launched and secured funding for the new main building at RHS; began the vision and the process of making stadium improvements and turfing Golden Tiger Stadium, solidifying its place as one of the nicest facilities in the state; helped start a thriving soccer program; helped to restart the 21st Century summer and after-school programs; worked to establish the RCS Early Childhood Center and helped acquire the facilities for the center that will improve Pre-K education and availability for local children; assisted in improving facilities and improving grounds and facility maintenance; and maintained a healthy general fund for five years despite investing in improvements.

Grimes also worked to establish a partnership with the City of Russellville to increase funding for RCS schools through the district’s management of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Under Grimes’ leadership the system has experience:

• Improved/increased AP offerings at Russellville High School and Russellville Middle School

• Increased qualifying scores for colleges

• Improved Career Tech programming and offerings

• Improved AP enrollments and the number of students passing AP exams

• Improved ACT scores as well as the number of students making 28+ and 30+ on the ACT

• Improved graduation rates

• Improved College and Career readiness rates

• Improved minority hiring practices and considerations

The district and individual schools have received the following awards and recognitions during Grimes’ tenure:

• A+ College Ready School of Excellence

• U.S. News and World Report Best Schools Award winner, multiple years

• Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools Banner School

• Imagine Learning Banner School

• Niche.com rankings, No. 1 and No. 3 Standout School in Alabama 2017 and 2019 at RHS and No. 15 in 2019 at RMS

Grimes has placed RCS in the state spotlight through his spearheaded efforts to form the Alabama Leaders Advocating for English Learners, which is a statewide CLAS affiliate program that serves to advocate for and has substantially changed EL funding and support across the state.

Grimes serves as ALA-EL president and has placed RCS is a role where RCS teachers’ EL strategies are being used as examples for other educators’ EL instruction.

Also through this role of advocating for EL support, he has helped to increase RCS’ EL funding from the state to six times what was allotted two years ago, bringing in more than $500,000 additional dollars to the district that would have otherwise come out of the RCS general fund.

Grimes has taken on leadership roles locally and at the district and state levels, which helps him and RCS be included in important conversations about the direction of education as well as important policies and decisions.

Grimes served as District 8 president for four years and is a past District 8 Superintendent of the Year; he served on the board of directors for the School Superintendents of Alabama and still serves as a mentor for SSA; he serves on the board of directors for CLAS; and he is a graduate of the Leadership Alabama program and serves on the Shoals Regional Council.

Grimes brought with him extensive relationships with the Alabama Reading Initiative, AMSTI, state legislators and the Alabama State Department of Education that have benefited the district, and he has helped to improve the academic perception of RCS in the midst of changing demographics.

Grimes and his wife, Amy, and their three daughters have rooted themselves in the Russellville community and continue to be a positive presence both inside and outside RCS.

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