Grimes announces forthcoming resignation as RCS superintendent
“After much consideration and many discussions with the Russellville City School Board, it has been determined that the 2023-2024 school year will be my final year as superintendent of Russellville City Schools,” Dr. Heath Grimes said in an official announcement May 30. The school board hires the superintendent, and the Russellville City Council appoints the members of the school board.
Grimes described his past eight years at RCS as “some of the most rewarding and fulfilling” of his career in education, “not just because of the things I was able to accomplish but because of the people that are part of this district who have walked alongside me and helped me uphold the tradition of excellence for which RCS is known.”
He said what he’ll miss the most is seeing all the people he’s come to know during his time as superintendent.
“They are amazing friends and colleagues, and it is the people I will miss most as I move into this next chapter of my life and career. When my family and I came here in 2015, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. We were embraced with open arms by so many in this community. We fully committed to this town and this district, and in return, we have been blessed by the friendships and memories we have made.”
He referred to a scripture from the Bible as a reassuring source for him. “I find comfort and assurance from Proverbs 16, which says in part: ‘Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose…The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.’ These verses and several others that have come to me this past week give me peace that the Lord will establish these next steps for me and for my family. And I believe He will do the same for this district if this work is committed to Him.”
Grimes said he plans to make the next year the best it can be and looks forward to serving the students, faculty and staff to the “fullest extent,” noting he has one RHS graduate, one upcoming graduate and one student beginning the eighth grade at RMS this fall. “I give 100 percent to whatever I pursue, and this last year as superintendent of Russellville City Schools will be no different,” he added.
“I am committed to making sure this will be a smooth transition for the sake and betterment of our district and those who are part of it. I love this district and am extremely proud to be a Golden Tiger.”
He said as he looks to the next year, he also looks back “with great pride and thankfulness for what we as a district have been able to accomplish” since he became superintendent, including:
Encouragement of significant changes in funding and instructional support for English Learners in Alabama, which caused RCS to go from receiving around $50,000 annually in state funding to now receiving almost $400,000 annually, “due in large part to advocating on behalf of the school system and not being afraid to speak up and fight for what RCS needs.”
Launching and securing of funding for the $10.5 million, 40,000 square foot main building addition to RHS that includes “state-of-the art biology and chemistry labs, efficient classrooms for special education and English Language students and teachers, as well as dedicated office and meeting spaces the community has already been able to use on several occasions.”
Leading stadium improvements that not only improved the appearance of the stadium facilities but also made them even more functional, including turfing the field at Golden Tiger Stadium to start a “well-overdue soccer program.”
“I have and will always believe in representation and every student being able to find their place during their time at RCS, and soccer is an important sport to many of our students and their families,” Grimes said.
“This program, which boasts both boys’ and girls’ soccer teams at the varsity and junior varsity levels, is flourishing and a source of pride for many in our city.” Grimes said the school system is getting ready to enter the second phase of the current building project, which is a complete renovation and remodel of the Career and Technical Education building, a project to give the current CTE programs better facilities and provide areas where students can learn their trades and crafts.
“It will also make it possible to utilize more technology and allow RCS students to stay on the cutting edge in their chosen career field,” he added. Other accomplishments he cited include:
RCS’ maintenance of a “healthy general fund for more than eight years despite the district investing in improvements.”
Agreement to manage the Parks and Recreation department through RCS, something that was “brand new and visionary and has proved to be a great success.”
While managing the city’s parks and recreation department, Grimes said the school system has “drastically improved the parks and recreation facilities, programming and expectations in the span of one year while also maintaining a surplus budget.”
He explained extra revenue has been brought in through improved facilities, grounds and maintenance, which has meant “more games, tournaments and events that financially assisted the city while also casting it in a favorable light” due to what it has available to offer.
Other accomplishments he cited include:
Development and successful implementation of two strategic plans for Russellville City Schools that allow for effective planning, input from important stakeholders and a more well-rounded educational experience. Increase of expectations of teachers, “despite pushback and negativity from those resistant to change,” in order to improve academic and instructional growth, which he said has been achieved and continues to improve each year.
Improvement of career tech programs and offerings, allowing many graduating seniors to be “career-ready” as soon as they are finished with high school.RCS having seen “significant increases in AP enrollments and the number of students passing AP exams, which sets these students up for success once they enter college.”
RHS and RMS currently having “more and better AP offerings at their schools,” which he described as “an asset for our students and their education.” RHS having seen improved ACT scores as well as the number of students making 28+ and 30+ on the ACT, which helps in securing scholarships.RHS having seen improved graduation rates as well as improved college and career readiness rates, leading to an “A” on the state report card.Recommendation and overseeing of classroom additions at Russellville Middle School.
Leading of the review and rewrite of the “antiquated, 500+ page board policy so it could reflect current expectations and standards.”
Improvement of minority hiring practices and considerations.Improvement of the assistant principal selection process.Restart of the 21st Century summer and afterschool programs, which he described as a “tremendous asset to our elementary students as well as their parents and guardians.”
Successful implementation of an out-of-district policy that was two-fold and, he explained, “ultimately successful in its intent to prevent overcrowding in our schools and classrooms (giving students and teachers a better chance at meeting their educational goals) and prevented the expenditure of millions of dollars in capital funds to construct an entirely new school.”
Grimes expressed his pride in the numerous academic and athletic awards the school system has received in the past eight years, including A+ College Ready School of Excellence, U.S. News and World Report Best Schools award winner for multiple years, CLAS Banner School, Imagine Learning Banner School, being one of 24 districts in the state to receive an A on the State Report Card (the only majority minority district to receive an A), RMS being named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and Russellville Elementary being named one of 12 ARI Science of Reading Schools.
He also praised the many athletic accomplishments the school system has seen, including numerous distinctions in baseball, football, soccer, basketball, tennis, golf, track and more. “In addition to the accomplishments we have made here at Russellville City Schools, it has also been my honor to serve and represent RCS through numerous state and community positions which have given me the opportunity to champion our district and establish RCS as a leader in the educational community in many areas,” Grimes added.
He noted some of the areas include him currently serving as president-elect of School Superintendents of Alabama for a year starting in July, as well as RCS being heavily featured for the work being done in Russellville City Schools with English Language Learners. Grimes said RCS is “not only ahead of the curve in this area, but also thriving.”
Grimes said since coming to Russellville, he has been a presenter for School Superintendents of Alabama (SSA), the Council for Leader in Alabama Schools (CLAS) and the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) on multiple occasions, in addition to spearheading and leading the formation of a statewide CLAS affiliate program called Alabama Leaders Advocating for English Learners, which he explained “has advocated for and substantially changed EL funding and support for our district and other districts across the state.”
“My involvement set RCS up to be a model district for others in the state with EL populations who were being underserved,” Grimes explained. “I also served as the first President of ALA-EL.”
Other accomplishments he listed include:
Being a leadership Alabama graduate, a prestigious program for leaders across the state.
Selection to be a member of the Eastern States Consortium for the School Superintendents of America/American Association of School Administrators (AASA).
Participation in AASA’s National Education Advocacy Day the last two years in his role as President and President-Elect of SSA.
Formation of strong and lasting relationships with numerous Alabama House and Senate members that have “proven to be beneficial for Russellville City Schools, our teachers, and our students.”
Serving on the Shoals Regional Council for Leadership Alabama, putting him in a position to be a leader and representative for RCS in our area.
Serving as a mentor for School Superintendents of Alabama.
Serving as District 8 President of School Superintendents of Alabama for four years and the SSA Board of Directors for the past five years.
Establishment of extensive relationships with Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI), Alabama Math Science and Technology Institute (AMSTI) and the Alabama State Department of Education, including the state superintendent. Grimes said these relationships “help provide opportunities for our students and teachers they might not otherwise have.”
Being a two-time District 8 Superintendent of the Year and state finalist.
Being the longest serving superintendent in SSA District 8 and in the top 10 longest tenures in the state.
Grimes said all he has accomplished professionally “and oftentimes personally” over the last eight years has “always been first and foremost in the best interests of our district, our students and our educators.”
He continued, explaining he has also done his best “to be a good representative of our city as a whole when I’ve had the opportunity,” noting why he’s done this: “I believe in Russellville City Schools,” Grimes said. “I believe in the people here – the students and the teachers who work so hard day in and day out. I believe in the ‘core’ values we have established, as well as the work being done.”
“And I believe this district is worth it. It is my sincere hope and prayer that the work we have done and the strides we have made will continue long after I am no longer the superintendent. There is much to be proud of here, and the best way to preserve that is to continue to move forward and make choices that are in the best interests of the students in this district.”
Grimes received the Dr. James A. Street Award June 13 during the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) annual convention in Mobile. The award comes in recognition of his lifelong work to ensure quality education for the children of Alabama. To read more about that, click HERE.
Grimes said he thanks “those who have stood with me in helping move our district in the right direction all these years,” as well as his family for standing beside him in all that he does. “It has been an honor for us all to be Golden Tigers, and we will continue to be Forever Golden in our hearts.”